Written to reveal statistical deceptions often thrust upon unsuspecting journalists, this book views the use of numbers from a public perspective. Illustrating how the statistical naivete of journalists often nourishes quantitative misinformation, the author's intent is to make journalists more critical appraisers of numerical data so that in reporting them they do not deceive the public. The book frequently uses actual reported examples of misused statistical data reported by mass media and describes how journalists can avoid being taken in by them. Because reports of survey findings seldom give sufficient detail of methods on the actual questions asked, this book elaborates on questions reporters should ask about methodology and how to detect biased questions before reporting the findings to the public. As such, it may be looked upon as an "elements of style" for reporting statistics.
Contents: Preface. Averages: Ambiguous in Assorted Ways. Percentages: Machiavellian Misleaders. The Word Connection: Inflaters or Deflators. Index Numbers: The Concealers. The Fine Art of Fooling. Convenient Numbers: The Magicians. Probable Probabilities: Don't Bet on Them. The Law of Large Numbers: You Lose. Correlation: Obscure Causality. Sampling: A Few Represent Many. Questionnaires: What You Ask Is What You Get. Conclusion.