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February 18, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

TAINTED TRUTH: The Manipulation of Fact in America by Cynthia Crossen (Touchstone: $12; 272 pp.). Wall Street Journal reporter Crossen examines the use, misuse and abuse of statistics in contemporary America, and questions the amount of information being presented in the endless string of opinion polls, consumer surveys and research reports. Too often, she argues, mathematics is used to obfuscate rather than clarify. Citing the controversies over breast implants, disposable diapers versus cloth diapers and the Dalkon Shield, Crossen laments: "One of the unfortunate results of our obsession with numbers is that we allow them to supersede our eyes, our ears and our common sense." This provocative study offers a much-needed grain of salt to take with the media polls during the upcoming primaries.

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