*How To Lie With Statistics *is a critically important book to have on your desk if you're involved any decision making. My edition is a First Edition, but I don't have the dust jacket, so not worth that much beyond the current versions.

The reason for this post is to lay the ground work for assessing reports, presentations, webinars, and other *selling* documents that contain statistical information.

The classic statistical misuse if the Standish Report, describing the success and failure of IT projects.

Here's my summation on the elements of *How To Lie* in our project domain

**Sample with the Built In Bias**- the population of the sample space is not defined. The samples are*self selected*in that those who respond are the basis of the statistics. No adjustment for all those who did not respond to a survey for example.**The Well Chosen Average**- The arithmetical average, Median, and Mode are*estimators*of the population statistics. Any of these without a variance is of little value for decision making.**Little Figures That Are Not There**- the classic is*use this approach (in this case #NoEstimates) and your productivity will improve 10X*, that 1000% by the way. A 1000% improvement. That's unbelievable, literally unbelievable. The actual improvements are stated, only the percentage. The baseline performance is not stated. It's unbelievable.**Much Ado About Practically Nothing**- the probability of being in the range of*normal*. This is the basis of advertising. What's the variance?**Gee-Whiz Graphs**- using graphics and adjustable scales provides the opportunity to*manipulate*the message. The classic example of this is the estimating errors in a popular graph used by the No Estimates advocates. It's a graph showing the number of projects that complete*over*there estimated cost and schedule. What's not shown is the credibility of the original estimate.**One Dimensional Picture**- using a picture to show numbers, where the picture is not in the scale as the numbers provides a messaging path for visual readers.**Semi-attached Picture**-*If you can't prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend that they are the same thing*. In one example, the logic is inverted. Estimating is conjectured to be the root cause of problems. With no evidence of that, the statement*we don't see how estimating can produce success*, so not estimating will increase the probability of success.**Post Hoc Rides Again**- posy hoc causality is common in the absence of a*cause and effect*understanding. The correlation and causality differences are many times not understood.

**Here's a nice example of How To Lie**

There's a chart from an IEEE Computer article showing the numbers of projects that exceeded their estimated cost. But let's start with some research on the problem. Coping with the Cone of Uncertainty.

There is a graph, popularly used to show that estimates

This diagram is actually MISUSED by the #NoEstimates advocates.

The presentation below shows the follow on information for how estimates can be improved the increase the confidence in the process and improvements in the business. As well shows the root causes of poor estimates and their corrective actions. Please ignore any ruse of Todd's chart without the full presentation.

My mistake was doing just that.

So before anyone accepts any conjecture from a #NoEstimates advocate using the graph above, please read the briefing at the link below to see the corrective actions for *making poor estimates*.

Here's the link to Todd's entire briefing not just the many times misused graph of estimates not representing the actuals Uncertainty Surrounding the Cone of Uncertainty.