How to Lie with Statistics


Really "How not to be lied to"

Phony accuracy (illiteracy rates)

Assuming you know what a word means (unemployment) (unwed mothers) -- if the definition is wrong the data can never be right.

Missing Statistics (average income in Brunei) (average temperature on coast vs. in desert)

Per Cents and Ratios (many examples) Always ask "Percent of WHAT?!" If you don't get a straight answer, assume the person doesn't know what he's talking about or he's trying to trick you (or both).

17% increase in traffic lanes.

Simpson's paradox:
          Alaska Air Lines had higher percent on-time at every single airport
          America West had higher overall percent on-time

1890's death rates at home & at Spanish-American War.

Availability heuristic (full Moon effect)

Convenience sample (10% gays)

Graphs: non zero base, disappearing quantity, backward trend.