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

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ISBN-10: 0520219783

ISBN-13: 9780520219786

Edition: 2001

Authors: Joel Best

List price: $85.00
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Description:

Does the number of children gunned down double each year? Does anorexia kill 150,000 young women annually? Do white males account for only a sixth of new workers? Startling statistics shape our thinking about social issues. But all too often, these numbers are wrong. This book is a lively guide to spotting bad statistics and learning to think critically about these influential numbers.Damned Lies and Statisticsis essential reading for everyone who reads or listens to the news, for students, and for anyone who relies on statistical information to understand social problems. Joel Best bases his discussion on a wide assortment of intriguing contemporary issues that have garnered much recent media attention, including abortion, cyberporn, homelessness, the Million Man March, teen suicide, the U.S. census, and much more. Using examples from theNew York Times,theWashington Post,and other major newspapers and television programs, he unravels many fascinating examples of the use, misuse, and abuse of statistical information. In this book Best shows us exactly how and why bad statistics emerge, spread, and come to shape policy debates. He recommends specific ways to detect bad statistics, and shows how to think more critically about "stat wars," or disputes over social statistics among various experts. Understanding this book does not require sophisticated mathematical knowledge; Best discusses the most basic and most easily understood forms of statistics, such as percentages, averages, and rates. This accessible book provides an alternative to either naively accepting the statistics we hear or cynically assuming that all numbers are meaningless. It shows how anyone can become a more intelligent, critical, and empowered consumer of the statistics that inundate both the social sciences and our media-saturated lives.
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Book details

List price: $85.00
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 5/8/2001
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 199
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.946

Joel Best is Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. He has published more than twenty books on social problems and deviance, including Threatened Children , Random Violence , Damned Lies and Statistics , and The Student Loan Mess (with Eric Best.)

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Worst Social Statistic Ever
The Importance of Social Statistics
Soft Facts: Sources of Bad Statistics
Mutant Statistics: Methods for Mangling Numbers
Apples and Oranges: Inappropriate Comparisons
Stat Wars: Conflicts over Social Statistics
Thinking About Social Statistics: The Critical Approach
Notes
Index