How To Lie With Statistics
Darell Huff

How To Lie With Statistics

This book is an old classic by Darell Huff. He went out of his way in the 1950s to explain how cognitive biases and statistical manipulation are used in research, media, and business opportunities.


Every founder and investor should read this book, mostly because it brings to life some of the most basic forms of statistical and emotional manipulation one might try to present to you during a pitch.

As investors and founders, we get paid to have an opinion about the future and to be right ahead of others. As you build your self-fulfilling prophecy, make sure that you are aware of others trying to manipulate information to convince you of their agenda.

Favorite Quotes

“Possibly more important to keep in mind is that the distortion of statistical data and its manipulation to an end are not always the work of professional statisticians. What comes full of virtue from the statistician's desk may find itself twisted, exaggerated, oversimplified, and distorted through selection by salesman, public relations experts, journalists, or advertising copywriters. But whoever the guilty party may be in any instance, it is hard to grant him the status of blundering innocent. False charts in magazines and newspapers frequently sensationalize by exaggeration, rarely minimize anything”
“Extrapolations are useful, particularly in that form of soothsaying called forecasting trends. But in looking at the figures or charts made from them, it is necessary to remember one thing constantly: The trend-to-now may be a fact, but the future trend represents no more than an educated guess. Implicit in it is "everything else being equal" and "present trends continuing." And somehow everything else refuses to remain equal, else life would be dull indeed.”
“Graphs are not always what they seem. There may be more in them than meets the eye, and there may be a good deal less.”

Other recommended books