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Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists

Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists
Author: Joel Best
ISBN 13: 9780520219786
ISBN 10: 520219783
Edition: 1st
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2001-05-08
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 190
List Price: $85.00

"[An] absolutely fascinating and sobering quest into the fantastic differences between the world as it is and the world as it is portrayed in the statistics the media use. . . .This book is simply a must."—Nachman Ben-Yehuda, author of The Masada Myth

"Best is our leading authority on social problems today. His detective work in exposing the spurious use of statistics is essential to constructive social science. No one who speaks for the public welfare can ignore his powerful work."—Jonathan B. Imber, Editor-in-Chief, Society

"Joel Best is at it again.
In Damned Lies and Statistics, he shows how statistics are manipulated, mismanaged, misrepresented, and massaged by officials and other powerful groups to promote their agendas. He is a master at examining taken-for-granted "facts" and debunking them through careful sociological scrutiny."—Patricia Adler, author of Peer Power

"A real page turner. Best is the John Grisham of sociology!"—James Holstein, author of The New Language of Qualitative Method

In our era, numbers are as much a staple of political debates as stories. And just as stories so often turn into fables, so Best shows that we often believe the most implausible of numbers—to the detriment of us all."—Peter Reuter, co-author of Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Vices,Times and Places


Whether we like them or not, we have to live with statistics, and Damned Lies and Statistics offers a useful guide for engaging with their troublesome world. Despite the temptation to be cynical, the author of this timely and excellent work cautions the reader against reacting in such a way to statistics. What we are offered is an approach that helps us to work out the real story behind those numbers.