How to Lie with Statistics

National Review, February 28, 1986.


Charles Murray “has never publicly responded, however, to one of the most widely publicized “refutations” of his thesis, based on a paper by David Elwood and Robert Summers of Harvard. Their data were applied in an influential attack on Losing Ground written by Robert Greenstein for The New Republic

When challenged to respond by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, Murray did so in a private letter that is a classic demonstration of how simple statistics can be misused. Because it demolishes a false argument that has been so widely repeated, and as a lesson in how to assess flashy statistics, we are printing an edited version of Murray’s letter for the record.”