The history of "How to Lie with Smoking Statistics"

– October 4, 2014

Darrell Huff is best known as the author of How to Lie with Statistics, which was published in 1954 and has been the most popular statistics book ever since. It was a short, snappy book illustrated by cartoonist Irving Geis and containing numerous humorous examples and anecdotes, priming its readers to resist the misleading plots and figures used by marketers and politicians.

Less well-known is Huff’s other statistical book, How to Lie with Smoking Statistics. It was commissioned by the tobacco industry in the 1960s after the Surgeon General’s famous report that smoking causes lung cancer, but never reached print.

The full story of Huff’s book is now available in my article “Huff and puff” in Significance magazine (preprint PDF here). Here I’ll collate some links to source documents available in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.

The manuscript

The manuscript of Huff’s book is available only in fragments, but I believe I have located every chapter. Some chapters appear in multiple undated copies in the Library, so it is not clear which represents the final revision; I usually picked the copy with the highest-quality scan, rather than fussing over establishing the right precedence.

I believe this is the entire manuscript, apart from perhaps a preface and conclusion.