/ #Data Science #Teaching 

Witty Statistical Statements

Causeweb.org has a great collection of statistical statements, funny songs, and jokes. My favorite was from Paul Rudnick in a play on Hal Varian’s quote

…statisticians are the new sexy vampires, only even more pasty.

I spent part of today going through them to see what I could use for classes in the future. I wish there was a way to sort them by most downloaded or votes as there are quite a few items in the collection.

Thought Provoking Quotes/Jokes

I abhor averages. I like the individual case. A man may have six meals one day and none the next, making an average of three meals per day, but that is not a good way to live.

American Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856 - 1951)

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Attributed to American economist Roger E. Brinner

Hey, I don’t know mu - and that’s not crazy, But here’s my window: call it maybe.

Lawrence Mark Lesser sung to “Call Me Maybe”

Shorn of all subtlety and led naked out of the protective fold of educational research literature, there comes a sheepish little fact: lectures don’t work nearly as well as many of us would like to think.

George Cobb

Oh, well, this would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence.

Sheldon Cooper (2007 - )

Most real life statistical problems have one or more nonstandard features. There are no routine statistical question; only questionable statistical routines.

Sir David R. Cox (1924 - )

I think the essential thing if you want to be a good statistician, as opposed to being a mathematician, is to talk to people and find out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

Florence Nightingale David (1909 - 1993)

In God we trust, all others bring data.

An unsourced quote often attributed to William Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Those who ignore Statistics are condemned to reinvent it.

Stanford University professor of Statistics Bradley Efron (1938 - )

That’s not an experiment you have there, that’s an experience.

Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962)

It is commonly believed that anyone who tabulates numbers is a statistician. This is like believing that anyone who owns a scapel is a surgeon.

American Statistician Robert Hooke

The larger the sample size (n) the more confident you can be that your sample mean is a good representation of the population mean. In other words, the “n” justifies the means.

no author

Multiple Choice: Which of the following is the most different? A) A Ph.D. in Mathematical Biology B) A Ph.D. in Theoretical Mathematics C) A Ph.D. in Statistics D) A large pepperoni pizza Answer: B - the other three can all feed a family of four.

no author

The researcher armed with a confidence interval, but deprived of the false respectability of statistical significance, must work harder to convince himself and others of the importance of his findings. This can only be good.

British statistician Michael W. Oakes

Experts often possess more data than judgment.

former U.S. four-star general and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell (1937 - )

You must never tell a thing. You must illustrate it. We learn through the eye and not the noggin.

Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

…statisticians are the new sexy vampires, only even more pasty.

A quote by American playwright, columnist, and humorist Paul M. Rudnick (1957 - )

It is key to know What p-value means – It’s the chance (with the null) you obtain data that’s At least that extreme!

May sing to tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Lawrence Mark Lesser

While nothing is more uncertain than the duration of a single life, nothing is more certain than the average duration of a thousand lives.

American actuary and abolitionist Elizur Wright (1804 - 1885)

…statistics is not a branch of mathematics. Indeed so; the whole of applied mathematics is merely a branch of statistics in which random error is reduced to zero.

Statistician and former associate director of the Census Bureau and ASA President Barbara Bailar (1935 - )

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

American entrepreneur James Love Barksdale (1943 - )

I love pictures. Formulas and symbols - I don’t especially like them.

American probabilist and Bayesian statistical theoretician David Blackwell (1919 - 2010)

Do not make things easy for yourself by speaking or thinking of data as if they were different from what they are; and do not go off from facing data as they are, to amuse your imagination by wishing they were different from what they are. Such wishing is pure waste of nerve force, weakens your intellectual power, and gets you into habits of mental confusion.

English mathematician and mathematics educator Mary Everest Boole (1832-1916)

Then I saw Tom Bayes: now I’m a believer, …

Brad Carlin

Great Comics


It’s a non-linear pattern with outliers…..but for some reason I’m very ahppy with the data

XKCD Comic


The Day I realized I could cook bacon whenever I wanted

XKCD Comic


Pistol Pete – The West’s most notorious outlier

Nick Kim


Why did the mean dog cross the median? … Because it followed the tail.

John Landers

Class Activities


J. Hathaway

Data Scientist, Consultant, Teacher, Learner