Michael A. Posner's Page of Statistics Quotes

Pages of quotes: Statistics, Dance, Other

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary a qualification for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.
--H.G. Wells

These days the statistician is often asked such questions as "Are you a Bayesian?" "Are you a frequentist?" "Are you a data analyst?" "Are you a designer of experiments?". I will argue that the appropriate answer to ALL of these questions can be (and preferably should be) "yes", and that we can see why this is so if we consider the scientific context for what statisticians do.
--G.E.P. Box

If at first it doesn't fit, fit, fit again.
--John McPhee

A picture is worth a thousand numbers.

There are Five kinds of lies:
Damned Lies,
Politicians quoting statistics
and Novellists quoting Politicians on Statistics.
--Stephen K Tagg

Statistical models are sometimes misunderstood in epidemiology. Statistical models for data are never true. The question whether a model is true is irrelevant. A more appropriate question is whether we obtain the correct scientific conclusion if we pretend that the process under study behaves according to a particular statistical model.
--Scott Zeger, "Statistical reasoning in epidemiology" in the American Journal of Epidemiology, 1991

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest. The only one I can remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.
--Mrs. Robert A. Taft

Do not put faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.
--William W. Watt

Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
--Aaron Levenstein

A judicious man uses statistics, not to get knowledge, but to save himself from having ignorance foisted upon him.
--Thomas Carlyle

A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.

To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose.
--Florence Nightingale

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.
--Rex Stout

It is utterly implausible that a mathematical formula should make the future known to us, and those who think it can would once have believed in witchcraft.
--Betrand de Jouvenel, The Art of Conjectur

The invalid assumption that correlation implies cause is probably among the two or three most serious and common errors of human reasoning.
--Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man

The manipulation of statistical formulas is no substitute for knowing what one is doing.
--Hubert M. Blalock, Jr., Social Statistics

Old Statisticians never die -- they just get broken down by age and sex.

When evaluating a model, at least two broad standards are relevant. One is whether the model is consistent with the data. The other is whether the model is consistent with the 'real world.'
--Kenneth A. Bollen, Structural Equations with Latent Variables

The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the n-th power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases.
--Comment of an English judge on the subject of Indian statistics; Quoted in Sir Josiah Stamp in _Some Economic Matters in Modern Life_

On statistical terminology
by Cory Lation

Whoever invented statistical terms
Had a head that was stuffed with worms.
All these new words are so much junk,
And if I don't learn them, I'm really sunk.

Why's the bell-shaped curve called normal?
Is it normal to be so formal?
There's nothing mean about the mean.
Its just average, as is clearly seen.
And what's so standard about that deviation?
Its a really malicious creation.
Confusing students is its only function.
It frustrates and mystifies, in conjunction.

And who needs the variance?
It only rhymes with hairy ants.
Variance is what analysis is of,
But all my friends would just love
To take all the sums of squares we've seen
And put them within the instructor's between.

I'm just not sure about probability.
I think it caused the prof's early senility.
I often frequent relatively conditional joints,
But that won't get me statistical points.

"Histogram" throws me, at least bit.
I remember the first time I heard of it.
I wanted an antihistogram to get rid of it.
But then I studied it, and after some beers,
I learned its a bar chart--there went my fears.
Just a bar chart--like Norm's tab at Cheers.

Skewness and kurtosis, there's a pair:
Something you'd wash out of your hair.

Research design, such a burn,
Just more weird terms to learn.
Your constructs are valid, so's your internal,
But if your validity isn't also external,
You should flush your data down the urinal
Or you'll go to a place where the heat is infernal
And study statistics for time eternal.

Then there's t, a test with jam and bread?
And F, the test that we all dread.
And what's so square about the chi?
If I don't get to the root of it, I'll just die.

Scatterplots, boxplots, stems-and-leaves grow,
Sounds like a radio gardening show.

Heteroscedasticity, now there's a word.
I think its when a turtle mates with a bird.

Then we study regression analysis,
A major cause of mental paralysis.
Least squares I like--minimize the nerds!
They like numbers better than words.
The most cools straight line--that's what we need.
I think I know where that line will lead.
Straight out of this class.
Were nearly done with this morass,
And my rhymes are running out of gas.
There's no chance I'll ever pass....

These data do not support the hypothesis.
Well...The first one does, but the second and third don't, now the fourth...

Which is more correct: "Statisticians are mean lovers" or "Statisticians are average lovers" ?
Statisticians are deviate lovers.
Statisticians are discriminant lovers.
Statisticians are outlying lovers.
Statisticians do it with bootstraps.
Statisticians do it with confidence, frequency and variation.

--from the b-boards

If your result needs a statistician then you should design a better experiment.
--Baron Ernest Rutherford

The lottery is a tax on people who flunked math.
--Monique Lloyd

Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.
--A.A. Latimer

All thoughts emit a throw of dice.
--Stephanie Mallarme

Data! Data! Data! I can't make bricks without clay!
---Sherlock Holmes

"Let us sit on this log at the roadside," said I, "and forget the inhumanity and ribaldry of the poets. It is in the glorious columns of ascertained facts and legalized measures that beauty is to be found. In this very log we sit up, Mrs. Sampson," says I, "is statistics more wonderful than any poem. The rings show it was sixty years old. At the depth of two thousand feet it would become coal in three thousand years. The deepest coal mine in the world is at Killingworth, near Newcastle. A box four feet long, three feet wide, and two feet eight inches deep will hold a ton of coal. If an artery is cut, compress it above the wound. A man's leg contains thirty bones. The Tower of London was burned in 1841."
"Go on Mr. Pratt", says Mrs. Simpson. "Them ideas is so original and soothing. I think statistics are just as lovely as they can be."
---O'Henry in _The Handbook of Hymen_

Having given the number of instances respectively in which things are thus and so, in which they are thus and not so, in which they are so and not thus, and in which they are neither thus nor so, it is required to eliminate the gerneral quantitative relativity inhering in the mere thingness of the things, and to determine the special quantitative relativity subsisting between the thusness and the soness of the things.
---M.H. Doolittle, 1887

In the field of observation, chance facors only the mind that is prepared.
---Louis Pasteur

All those who drink of this remedy recover in a short time, except those whom it does not help, who die. Therefore, it is obvious that it fails only in incurable cases.
--Galen (circa 100 A.D.)

Strangely, the motto chosen by the founders of the Statistical Society in 1834 was Aliis exterendum, which means "Let other thrash it out." William Cochran confessed that "it is a little embaressing that statisticians started out by proclaiming what they will not do."
--Edmund A. Gehan and Noreen A. Lemak in Statistics in Medical Research: Developments in Clinical Trials

There are aspects of statistics other than it being intellectually difficult that are barriers to learning. For one thing, statistics does not benefit from a glamorous image that motivates students to persist through tedious and frustrating lessons...there are no TV dramas with a good-looking statsitician playing the lead, and few mothers' chests swell with pride as they introduce their son or daughter as "the statistician."
---Chap T. Le and James R. Boen in Health and Numbers: Basic Statistical Methods

...while a man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.
---Sherlock Holmes

Statistically Speaking - a book of statsitical quotes. I know the authors visited my page to check out some quotes. :)

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