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Activity Number: 558
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract #318953
Title: How to Lie (to Congress) with Statistics
Author(s): Kirk Anderson* and Mary Richardson
Companies: Grand Valley State University and Grand Valley State University
Keywords: Media ; news ; misleading graphs

In 2014, the Phoenix VA Health Care System delivered a report to Congress, which included a simple graph, apparently created in Excel. A member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) criticized the graph, and the Chief of Staff for the Phoenix VA, Dr. Darren Deering, attempted to defend it. Rep. Huelskamp also took issue with the Phoenix VA making use of the classic book How to Lie With Statistics, written by Darrell Huff way back in 1954. Since this book was on the recommended reading list for VA staff, Rep. Heulskamp accused the Phoenix VA of using it to, well, lie with statistics. This led to VA Secretary Robert McDonald banning any use of the book in the training of VA staff. In this poster, I will show how to make use of this interesting "statistics in the media" event in class, which involves deconstructing the graph.

Authors who are presenting talks have a * after their name.

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