I’ve wanted to write a post going over some basic statistics and offer some insight into what they mean, how they work, and why they lie. Instead, I think I’ll be working on a series so I can offer bite-sized chunks options on learning to dissect news stories, reports, and other claims of facts.
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, probably
I’m not trying to say you can’t trust any statistics.
What I am saying is everybody should have a basic understanding of something that is prevalent in the news, at work, and almost everywhere else.
The issue of manipulating statistics has pervaded for decades. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America was written by Michael Wheeler and published in 1976.
And if that doesn’t send off alarm bells in your head, lets try this book published in 1954. It is titled How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff. This book offered a simple introduction to statistics, but you can see why I think statistics is dangerously close to the realm of alternative facts.
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