Articles

Studying the lie: statistics

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2016 by mstevensrev

How to lie with statistics 2Darrel Huff wrote a wonderful illustrated book by Irving Geis, titled, How to Lie with Statistics. I’m two chapters into it and I find it lovely. Now there are only two reasons someone would read this book:

To learn how to lie with statistics

To expose those lying with statistics

I’ll let those of you who know me decide why I’m reading it. Learning simple questions to ask can make all the difference in a deal or a discussion.

How to lie with statisticsFor instance last night I read the chapter titled, The Well-Chosen Average. This chapter demonstrates the games people play with averages: Arithmetical Average, Median, and Mode. All three of these data points are helpful in certain circumstances but they can also be used to manipulate. For instance when looking at the average salary at a company you are interested in working, this AVERAGE can be skewed if it is the Arithmetical Average when the CEO earns a salary of $10M+. The Media is helpful because then you see the salary that half the employees get paid more and half the employees get paid less. And the Mode will tell you what the most common salary is in the company. This is basic 101 Statistics from University but the refresher has been enlightening to me.

Now that I’m giving away my secrets I think I’ll have to find another book to give me an advantage:)

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.          -Rex Stout

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