Hard Cancel

I learned about this because it was mentioned on the Unintended Consequences podcast.

This thing makes me feel duped, dirty, and angry. I used to recommend Darrell Huff’s How To Lie With Statistics. In fact, back when I used to teach my class on metrics, a copy of the book was a prize for best extra-credit example of how to make yourself look better than you were, with one simple metric. Ha, ha, ha. Funny, right?

Anyhow, I’ve now removed How To Lie With Statistics from my recommended reading list [stderr] and, now, we have to have a little chat about “cancel culture.” Some people might argue that we have to treat the product – the book – differently from the producer, because the product still might be good or useful regardless of its origin. That’s always seemed to me to be convenient reasoning; i.e: I can still listen to Eric Clapton’s music and ignore the slight flavor of vomit in my mouth, because damn he plays guitar nowhere near as well as Jimmy Page (also problematic) so let’s just say he’s not worthy to kiss Stevie Ray Vaughn’s or Jimi Hendrix’ asses. Since the reason I taste vomit in my mouth when I think of Clapton is because he’s a stupid racist (and now an anti-vaxxer) and I don’t like stupid racists. His music is unchanged but my opinion of him has. I think I’ll have to go with Jimi Hendrix. Hell, Mark Knopfler’s playing was clearer and often vastly superior. Clapton is not god.

Neither is Darrell Huff: [wik]

Stanford historian Robert N. Proctor wrote that Huff “was paid to testify before Congress in the 1950s and then again in the 1960s, with the assigned task of ridiculing any notion of a cigarette-disease link. On March 22, 1965, Huff testified at hearings on cigarette labeling and advertising, accusing the recent Surgeon General’s report of myriad failures and ‘fallacies’.

Huff is credited with introducing statistics to a generation of college and high-school students on a level that was meaningful, available, and practical, while still managing to teach complex mathematical concepts. His most famous text, How to Lie with Statistics, is still being translated into new languages. His books have been published in over 22 languages, and continue to be used in classrooms the world over.

Huff was later funded by the tobacco industry to publish a follow-up to his book on statistics: How to Lie with Smoking Statistics. This led to controversy and much criticism in the late 1960s. The book was intended to be published by Macmillan, but near the end of 1968, the plans for its publication came to an abrupt halt. It was not until the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 that the existence of the book, letters between Huff and tobacco industry lawyers discussing it, and the entire unpublished manuscript itself became publicly available.

In other words, he was a loathsome PR flack, taking money from big tobacco and helping them deploy bullshit in defense of their business of selling poison. If he were alive today, he’d probably be trying to make statistical arguments for how global warming actually is a product of bad statistics, assuming Exxon paid him.

How do these people live with themselves?

I can no longer enjoy what I thought was a pretty good book. It hasn’t magically become a bad book – it’s still charming and informative (as John Cleese might say) and I’m just being “politically correct” by cancelling Huff. No, it’s not political correctness – it’s revulsion.


  1. says

    I feel the same about Dawkins’s and Rowling’s books. The books did not change, but ever since that I have learned that their authors are unrepentant grade-A assholes, I just cannot read the books anymore. I have not purposefully decided to “cancel them”. I have not gone out of my way to harass them. I just cannot read the books because picking them up reminds me of the loathsome people who wrote them and it makes me feel nauseous.

  2. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#2:
    People who looked at this item may also be interested in:
    How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier

    It looks interesting. But is there a razor blade hidden in that? His bio is sparse and lacks references that he specialized in drawing maps for the CIA, or designed new systems of gerrymandering. Are you just saying it’s a decent book worth checking out?

  3. says

    I feel the same about Dawkins’s and Rowling’s books

    Yeah, same here. I stopped reading Dawkins just before he trotted out “Dear Muslima” and I was always dismissive of Rowling.

  4. says

    Ian King@#3:
    At least he was publishing on his area of expertise…

    All the better to twist and bend.

    On the other hand, “Joe Rogan’s Big Buk Uv Statistiks” would be worth looking at.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    @2 @4 I am just saying it might be worth checking out. And in current context, the lack of objectionable behavior by the author seems to be a plus.
    I haven’t actually read it thoroughly. I bought a copy for a friend, flipped through it a bit before sending it to him, but it got lost in shipping so I actually don’t know anyone who has read it thoroughly.

  6. StevoR says

    @2. Charly : FWIW I used to be a huge fan of Orson Scott Card & esp Enders Game & its sequels as a kid &, er, a bit older than a kid too albiet with nostalgia glasses. Used to be.

    Do I feel silly and like I misssed a lot of obvious bad I should have seen earlier in it? Looking back inhinsdisght, how did I not see that and that and that .. ?







  7. says

    I’ve felt as though my knowledge of history and civilization has been fizzing and bubbling and melting down like a metaphor for something; I don’t know what. When I grew up I knew all the stuff we all “knew” – we were in Vietnam for reasons which turned out to be lies, our political system was brilliant which turned out to be lies, our presidents were strong and just (aaahahahahahahaa!) etc etc etc. Every single bit of it has dissolved into a bubbling cesspit of bullshit.The closer I look the worse it is.

    When I was a kid I loved the Narnia books, until I discovered that CS Lewis deliberately wrote them to propagandize kids. What the fuuuu…. – OMG. No! Enders’ game, I fortunately immediately realized was objectively bad (and obvious, and stupid – as if any human would give a fuck about comitting xenocide; look what we do to planetary species!) I guess that’s why I’m so mad about Huff – I geniunely never saw anything wrong with the material, but I missed that he wasn’t being ironic. Bastard fooled me nasty.

  8. flex says

    Without suggesting anyone is wrong, because decisions like these are personal and I do not presume to dictate, I take a different view. If a book contains useful information, or is well-written and enjoyable to read, I do not hold the author’s personal faults against them.

    I suppose there are a few reasons I don’t hold the author’s personal background against their work.

    First, a reprehensible person may be the only person to have expertise in certain areas. I have on my shelves diaries of slave owners, personal recollections of a couple British General’s of their conquest of India, and other known assholes. And that’s just looking at my shelf of books on history. But they are also primary sources for some information, with the understanding that a primary source may be well-removed from an event. Over on the mathematics shelf I’ve got a couple books from a very old statistician who also down-plays the risk of smoking, but his explanation of statistics are the clearest I’ve ever read. On my shelf of medical books, I have one where the first half of the book is a great history of 20th century medicine, but the second half dives into claims that the current medical profession is corrupt and no advances in medicine would be made in the 21st century. These remain on my shelf because they are either unique or the best treatment I’ve read of a topic, even with their warts. If I find a better-written book covering the same topics I’ll move these to the basement, but I’m not actively looking for better books.

    Another reason, primarily for fiction, is that a well-written book can be independent of it’s author’s faults. Wodehouse was a muddle-headed man, who didn’t understand (or care) about history, politics, or really what was going on in the world around him. He wasn’t deliberately evil, but he just didn’t understand that when he said during WWII that the Nazi’s were treating him well, and seemed to be good chaps, that his remarks would be infuriating to a country, his native country, at war. Asimov was well-known as a philanderer. At the time it was seen as consensual, but the revelations about cultural expectations over the past ten years strongly suggest to me that coercion was at least very likely in some or even most instances. Does that make the I, Robot, stories terrible? I can understand some people making the decision to remove the book from their shelves. There are plenty of good books out there, and shelf space is limited. But it remains on my shelf.

    I guess I’ve found that many of the authors I enjoy for both non-fiction or fiction are flawed in some manner. To the point where I treasure my ignorance of the personal details of the lives of the authors I don’t know about. I have spoken with, or corresponded, with a number of SF authors over the years, and I while will say they all seemed nice, I can’t say for certain that any of them are completely free of reprehensible viewpoints. (I never talked with Ellison or Pournelle, who have reputations as being opinionated assholes.) But, I really don’t want to hear that my favorite authors, like Umberto Eco or Jorge Luis Borges, held obnoxious opinions; because their books are so well written that even if it turns out that one of them drowned kittens for pleasure their books would remain on my shelves.

    I understand and appreciate the decision for people to remove books from their shelves for lots of reasons. Whether it’s the personality of the author, problems with factual details in the work, lousy writing, or even the idea that their shelves contain too many white, male, authors. These are all fine reasons to remove books from shelves.

    But, to me, a book is a tool. It may be a tool to transfer specialized knowledge, or condensed experiences, or to generate transitory pleasure. But the foibles of the creator of a tool does not automatically make the tool which was created a bad tool.

    I do understand if people decide to not use that tool, for any reason. And a flawed creator does mean that it may be worth examining the tool a little closer. To at least be aware that some of the creators flaws may be transferred to the tool. And that it may be more important in writing, because it’s easier to hide a malevolent opinion in writing a book than in designing a new screwdriver.

    Again, I’m not saying anyone is wrong to remove books from their shelves for any reason. That’s none of my business.

  9. says

    I have a copy of “How to Lie with Maps”, and I’ve read it, at least twice. However, that last reading was at least 10 years ago. While I don’t remember a lot of specifics, it covered a lot of how, when a map is made, there is so much detail available that the mapmaker has to make a zillion conscious choices.

    Two specifics I do remember: For a map that included the Michigan/Ohio border, there were two fictitious towns added on either side of the border: “Goblu” and “Beatosu”. Many of you will be able to figure out what that means, and the affiliation of the mapmaker. The other specific was the exact location of Camp David. I found that interesting because in the thriller “The President’s Plane is Missing”, by Robert Serling (Rod’s brother), there’s a scene where the reporter is heading to Camp David. I tried following (via map) the road directions, and it got nowhere near Camp David. A different kind of lying.

  10. says

    My personal policy is, I don’t contribute to the income of a living scumbucket. Yes, scumbuckets can sometimes produce work of good quality. But I don’t have to add to the financial resources they (ab)use to make other people’s lives shitty. Once a scumbucket is safely dead, and no longer making life shitty for other people, then I’ll think about buying one of their books or buying a ticket to a movie which enriches them. But while they’re alive? Well, books which are borrowed (from friends or a library) or pirated read just as good as books I pay for, and the same goes for movies.

  11. sarah00 says

    I have a copy of How to Lie with Statistics. I read it in school a long time ago and used to recommend it to people but then I bought myself a copy and was rather horrified by the casual racism and misogyny. It’s still a valuable book but I only recommend it with heavy caveats.

    I’m in a similar boat to other commentators with regards to Dawkins – I don’t read his work any more and haven’t re-read his older books in a long time. Partly that’s because the science is out of date in places, and for his more philosophical works I simply no longer trust his judgement. But when it comes to Huff I don’t feel the same concern – he literally called his book How to Lie with Statistics. That he himself lied with statistics does nothing to diminish the information in his book. That said, I would love to have another book that was as straightforward in its descriptions of the statistical manipulations we are confronted with every day that didn’t have the problematic elements of Huff’s.

  12. lanir says

    @flex: I had some similar thoughts but I think my decisions vary a bit. I think whether a book is fiction or not matters because a lot of good fiction requires worldbuilding. One of the ways authors do this to make it easier to read and to write is by copying real world philosophies. It’s possible for authors to avoid sneaking nasty ideas in when they do that but you can’t always count on it. A mathematics text on the other hand would have to go out of its way to present bad philosphy concepts.

    I think I just generally don’t want to open myself up to having poorly thought out ideas snuck into my head where I’ll just have to root them out later once I realize what a mess they are.

    @Marcus: Ender’s Game and Narnia had similar problems for me. I’d already read much better sci-fi and fantasy by that point and neither of those measured up. They were both frustrating because I didn’t really like the characters. If you want a sci-fi about a smart person in the military maybe try the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. I don’t know of any problematic issues around her or her work and I think they’re rather good. I like her work in fantasy as well. Unfortunately I lack any similarly useful recommendations for statistics.

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    @10 When I was a kid I loved the Narnia books, until I discovered that CS Lewis deliberately wrote them to propagandize kids.

    Oh yes. C.S. Lewis used his fiction to introduce people to sophisticated theological concepts, such as talking animals.
    A few years ago, I revisited a book I recall reading in my childhood, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t remember much about it, except the word “tesseract.” So, I gave it another read and was put off by the religion in it.

  14. jrkrideau says

    For people lying about smoking Oreskes & Conway’s book
    Merchants of Doubt will shake your faith in a number of very distinguished scientists.

  15. Holms says

    What a strange way to live! Checking the politics of the creators of a thing you like before deciding whether to enjoy it, despite admitting that the thing they made is good on its merits. Case in point, I enjoyed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then I found out C.S. Lewis wrote it as deliberate allegory to christianity, and that did not stop me thinking well of the book. (Though I imagine that if I tried reading it today, I would find it a bit too… child fiction for my tastes, if you know what I mean.)

  16. says

    What a strange way to live! Checking the politics of the creators of a thing you like before deciding whether to enjoy it, despite admitting that the thing they made is good on its merits.

    What a sad attempt at snark, equivocating someone’s having an emotional reaction when they found out that a book they enjoyed was a propaganda piece after they had fallen for it with “Checking the politics of the creators of a thing you like before deciding whether to enjoy it.” If you think those are remotely similar, you’re a fool. Alternatively, if you thought that was an opening for some cutting snark, you’re a hell of a bad propagandist and I suggest you go level up a couple times before you try again.

  17. says

    Reginald Selkirk:
    A few years ago, I revisited a book I recall reading in my childhood, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t remember much about it, except the word “tesseract.” So, I gave it another read and was put off by the religion in it.

    Damn, I loved those books. I don’t recall there being any religion in it, but maybe my kid-brain was filtering it out (like it did with the Narnia books)

  18. says

    For people lying about smoking Oreskes & Conway’s book
    Merchants of Doubt will shake your faith in a number of very distinguished scientists.

    Uh oh.
    I’ve got a copy on order. Every time I think it’d be hard for me to get more cynical, an opportunity presents itself to realize that reality is just much, much, worse.

  19. Holms says


    What a sad attempt at snark, equivocating someone’s having an emotional reaction when they found out that a book they enjoyed was a propaganda piece after they had fallen for it

    But I gave an example of exactly that: discovering that C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was christian apologetics packaged for children well after I read an enjoyed it. I suppose it comes down to what you mean by ‘falling’ for it; in one sense, I did not ‘fall for’ the apologetics in that I did not convert to christianity, but then that makes me wonder what you ‘fell for’ when you read How To Lie With Statistics. It certainly didn’t convert you to the author’s politics, so how were you “duped” by it?

    As far as I can tell it did not mislead you or trick you into anything in particular, which leaves me with the impression that you are rejecting a thing based on the politics of the thing’s creator.

  20. flex says

    lanir @15 wrote,

    I think I just generally don’t want to open myself up to having poorly thought out ideas snuck into my head where I’ll just have to root them out later once I realize what a mess they are.

    I can understand that. I’m not as worried about it though, at least not since I learned how subliminal messages were a hoax. As I wrote, sometimes you need to examine a work, or be aware that the author may be unintentionally (or intentionally) adding a bias.

    C.S. Lewis is a classic example, as mentioned above. An author who deliberately translated the Death for Redemption theme of Christianity into children’s literature. But where he fails is that Christianity does not own the copyright on that theme. By the time I read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe I had already read that theme in both Christian allegories (think of Hans Christian Anderson’s works), or other mythologies. I still have the book I read them in, Vol. III of a 1918 set of children’s literature, this volume is called Tales of Greece and Rome. I don’t know where it came from, and we didn’t have the rest of the set, and it’s certainly been bowdlerized, but I didn’t see the Christian symbolism in C.S. Lewis until I read Perlandia and realized exactly what he was doing. Lewis’ work read just like any of the other mythological tales I had read, and I gave it the same credence.

    There are more subtle examples. For instance, in Jack Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy, which I consider superior to Tolkien as far as fantasy goes. In these three books, as well as in other work’s by Vance, you can see his own predilection for the beauty of younger women. There are some strong female characters in his works, but the female characters he gives special attention to are either early adolescents or even pre-pubescent. And he often either describes them in sexual manner, or places them in sexual situations. Now this is not ahistorical, our own notions of consent and what age a person needs to be to understand the implications of consent are fairly recent. But there is a difference between acknowledging that 12-year-old women are starting to learn about their sexuality, and eulogizing their bodies. You can make a good argument that Vance was, probably unconsciously, promoting pedophilia. Pedophilia is notion which has infected a lot of people’s brains, but which we’ve learned isn’t a healthful one. So maintaining some awareness of what you are reading, keeping in mind that the book is a tool created by a person with flaws, may be a good idea. With any book really.

    As a final example, one which I think is a fairly interesting for the questions it raises. Agatha Christie, in the writing she did prior to WWII, used a number of common anti-Semitic tropes from the period. Jewish people were either poor shysters or rich bankers, and their descriptions could have some right out of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. After WWII, and the horrors which anti-Semitism was shown to engender, Christie did not portray Jewish people the same way ever again. Now, do we know if Christie actually changed her opinion? Or if she was just lazy in her early work and never really held anti-Semitic opinions? Or did she get advice to use stereotypes in her early works because the readers would identify easier with them? Or did she continue to hold anti-Semitic opinions after WWII, but didn’t put them in her writings? I don’t know if these questions can ever be positively answered. I wouldn’t trust what she said on the topic, she knew anti-Semitism wasn’t popular. Individually, we can decide to not keep her early work on our shelves. Or recognize that some of her early work contains some abhorrent stereotypes, but read them for the story regardless. We could also just not bother with reading Christie any more, there are tons of other mysteries available. After all, in 200 years, if reading is still done for pleasure, it’s unlikely that anyone other than weirdos like myself would read Christie (how many people read Walpole for pleasure these days?). I’m not going to claim there is a correct choice, what’s on your shelves is your choice. But there is an incorrect choice, and that is to deny that ant-Semitism exists in Christie’s opus.

  21. flex says

    Just a note about Card and Ender’s Game. I never read the novel because I had read the short story of the same title some years before in one of the SF magazines. The short story was almost a perfect short story, a true gem. And Ender doesn’t find out what it going on until the very end of the story.

    The short story wasn’t particularly original, the idea of tricking people, even children, into immoral actions is a fairly old trope. And the ending was telegraphed from the very beginning for the reader, even the title was a clue. But the children in the story were completely oblivious as to what was going on, in their innocence they believed they were only playing a game. Which made the genocide at the end just that more poignant.

    When the novel came out, I decided not to read it. Not because I had any animosity towards Card, but because there was no way a novelization of that story could be any better.

  22. says

    Oh here we go again.

    As far as I can tell it did not mislead you or trick you into anything in particular
    “as far as I can tell” – apparently isn’t very far because you ought to be able to figure it out with a little effort. When you read a book and take the story at face value – i.e.: it’s a story about a lion, a witch, and a wardrobe – then you discover later that the author had snuck a bunch of christian ideology past you – that’s “misleading”; it’s misleading kids, in fact. Stop pretending not to understand.

    that makes me wonder what you ‘fell for’ when you read How To Lie With Statistics. It certainly didn’t convert you to the author’s politics, so how were you “duped” by it?

    I thought it was an ironic text about statistics and how they can be manipulated, not a small, deceptive part of a much greater deception. Before you ask: if the author had clearly stated that the book was written on behalf of the tobacco industry, to displace people’s belief in statistics regarding smoking and health, then it would have not been deceptive. Surely you are not actually so obtuse, so I assume you’re being disingenuous.What do you expect to accomplish? Are you are trying to imply that my opinion/emotional reaction to something is somehow inappropriate, or invalid, or virtue signaling, or political correctness or something like that? And even if that were true, how does that invalidate anything I said or prove something bad about my beliefs?

    I didn’t know what “apologetics” was when I read CS Lewis. I loved those books for a long time, and when I discovered that Lewis had slipped a bunch of christian crap in, it ruined my opinion of Lewis and the books. Hey, here’s another one: when I later re-read Tintin I was shocked at how ignorantly racist it was (not merely racist but wrong about a lot of stuff and politically naive to boot) and that changed how I felt about those books, to the point where the idea of reading them makes me wince. The authors of that masterpiece may have been genuine “France Uber Alles” franco-puffers, but my opinion of them went into the toilet and remains there. What’s wrong with that? Do you have quibbles? Do you think my feelings are unreasonable? No, wait – I’m talking about feelings; who cares what anyone else thinks – it’s opinion.

    leaves me with the impression that you are rejecting a thing based on the politics of the thing’s creator.

    Are you actually confusing religion with politics? How funny. But, seriously, who the fuck are you and why do you give a fuck if I reject a thing based on a the politics of the thing’s creator, even if that were the case? I already explained that I have an emotional response to authors that try to deceive me. Do you think you are accomplishing some master-work of quibbling by pointing out that, hey, I do exactly what I just posted “hey, I do this thing”? Brilliant.

  23. says

    I also own copies of Madison Grant, and The Lost Cause as well as some really bad US Government propaganda about race. In those cases, I do not feel revulsion at an attempt to deceive me, since I knew they were bullshit propaganda going in to the matter, and they make no attempt to hide what they are. The fact that Madison Grant appears to have been sincere doesn’t make me more or less disgusted by Grant; I already knew he was an ignorant jackass because the whole book is pretty up front about what it is.

    I was a bit disgusted by Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate which I felt was an attempt to pass off a book that was a poorly concealed attack of sorts on a caricature of feminism that Pinker apparently does not like as a book on evolutionary psychology (which is already a dodgy enough topic). I felt it was dishonest as well as inept, and held that (and still hold it) against Pinker.

    The reason I don’t like dishonest books is a matter of my personal aesthetics; I think it wastes words to write one thing concealing an intent to convey another. Even if it’s done brilliantly, as Huff did it, it is not attractive to me; I would prefer to be addressed plainly and I would prefer an author to be confident enough in the truth (or their opinion) to present it openly and defend it as such. That’s why I’d say – in my opinion – Madison Grant is a more honest author than Darrell Huff, even though Huff’s book is a better book. Simple. Yes, there is a separation in my mind between the author and the work – that is still maintained – but my opinion of the author is mine and if I get pissed off at an author for being less than direct, that’s entirely my business. You’re welcome to my opinion, of course.

  24. says

    Just a note about Card and Ender’s Game.

    I agree. At the time when I was reading it a friend of mine noticed the cover and said something to the effect of “inside that novel is a good short story trying to get out.” I’m sure it wasn’t original snark, but it was good. I thought the book was carrying a ton of padding, and I was really underwhelmed when Card proceeded to write the same book over and over again – basically the incredible plot device that a human would actually feel bad about committing xenocide, and angst over it so much. Unfortunately for Card that was the same time I picked up Banks’ The Player of Games and I never spared another thought for Card. Seriously, why bother?

  25. says

    Here’s another one: I used to really enjoy Dilbert because I only saw cut-out cartoons pinned up in peoples’ cubicles and it seemed like a pretty good send-up of corporatism, bad management, and consultants. (At the time, I was a consultant, so as Dogbert said, “I see the problem.”) I did not learn that Scott Adams is a genuine dipshit until years later, at which point I was so horrified by his dipshittyness that it changed my feelings about Dilbert. It’s still funny but it’s “New John Cleese” funny not “1970s John Cleese” funny.

  26. lochaber says

    I’m not sure how I feel about this issue in terms of non fiction and similar, I haven’t quite sorted my thoughts out on that yet. Although, at the moment, it hasn’t been a pressing issue, or even an issue for me recently…

    As to fiction, there are more decent, inclusive, and non-bigoted writers out there whose work I thoroughly enjoy than I can keep up with, so I won’t hesitate to drop an author or artist if I happen to discover they are also a bigot. I got a lot of crap on some other site for saying I wouldn’t read any more of Jim Butcher’s stuff, after his involvement/refusal to withdraw(or at least speak out) over that stupid puppies Hugo debacle a few years back. Whatever, like I said, there is more stuff I enjoy written by writers who manage to be decent people than I can ever hope to keep up with, and I’m under no obligation to buy or read anyone’s books for any reason.

  27. lorn says

    Darrell Huff sliding by on a book and what academia could give him. So he sold out. Clapton sold himself out by failing to keep improving. Born into racism he failed the evolve out of it. But here again he will make the rounds and score some cash for interviews and such. Both in their own manner worshiping at the alter of money.

    A very old religion. A very simple religion: There is one virtue: Having more money. There is one sin: Having less money, There is one heresy: Leaving money on the table.

    I would be delighted to report all such people (Including Murray: The Bell Curve) suffer and end their days denouncing their former actions but, as far as I can tell, none of them has, or will ever, lose a minute of sleep over it. Money corrupts. But the pay is good.

    Nature knows nothing of Truth, Justice, or Fairness. Those are human sensitivities. If we want to live in a world where such things matter we are going to have to build it. Some assembly required.

    So it goes.

  28. says

    In an interesting (I think) juxtaposition of C. S. Lewis and Orson Scott Card, Card also wrote the Alvin Maker series, a retelling (reselling) of Mormonism. I sure didn’t know that at the time I started reading them. But, I must have soured on them without knowing that for some reason, since as I look over my old SF (packrat, doncha know) I see I only have the first 3.

    Once I DID find out, yeah, I felt cheated. For one thing, I’d read Mark Twain’s takedowns of Mormonism and its origins long, long before. And, my thought then (and now) was/is, how stupid are the original religious myths that the true believers (and I include C. S. Lewis here) have to rewrite them to try to make them more palatable and interesting?

  29. Holms says

    Marcus, no disingenuousness, just genuine puzzlement. We clearly process this sort of thing differently, and C. S. Lewis’ work I think makes for a good comparison, since we have both read it.

    We both read it presumably as youngsters, and enjoyed it as a novel. We both later discovered Lewis intentionally put elements of his own religion views in there. Your understanding of the book then changed – you saw it as deception, perhaps even indoctrination; I didn’t. Subsequent to that discovery, I could still enjoy the book as a novel. That is the general pattern for me, no point throwing more examples at it.

    As for How To Lie with Statistics, you have the timeline around the wrong way. Huff cannot have written the book “on behalf of the tobacco industry, to displace people’s belief in statistics regarding smoking and health”, as the book was published in 1954, and his involvement with tobacco companies came afterward. The book was honest in intent, and then he sold out.

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