Statistically Speaking We are so often using words to describe statistics, whether analytically or methodologically, but can these series of quoted words, blending the profound with the popular and the modern with the historical, and even humorous, capture the essence of the world of statistics? Paul Askew Based on the orignial presentation to the Royal Statististal Society Annual Conference.
Statistically Speaking …1 Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write. HG Wells The War Office kept three sets of figures: one to mislead the public, another to mislead the Cabinet, and a third to mislead itself. Herbert Asquith You cannot ask us to take sides against arithmetic. Winston Churchill The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself. Winston Churchill It is by the art of Statistics that law in the social sphere can be ascertained and codified, and certain aspects of the character of God thereby revealed. The study of statistics is thus a religious service. Florence Nightingale Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. William W. Watt A little uncertainty is good for everyone. Henry Kissinger Statistics are no substitute for judgment. Henry Clay
Statistically Speaking …2 There is no such thing as luck; only adequate and inadequate preparation to cope with the statistical universe. Robert Anson Heinlein If you want to inspire confidence, give plenty of statistics. It does not matter that they should be accurate, or even intelligible, as long as there is enough of them. Lewis Carroll Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all. Charles Babbage Data is a lot like humans. It is born. Matures. Gets married to other data, divorced. Gets old. One thing it doesn't do is die. It has to be killed. Arthur Miller I have a great subject (statistics) to write upon, but feel keenly my literary incapacity to make it easily intelligible without sacrificing accuracy and thoroughness. Sir Francis Galton Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable. Mark Twain It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Sherlock Holmes Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics. Fletcher Knebel
Statistically Speaking …3 Those who ignore Statistics are condemned to reinvent it. Brad Efron One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. Joseph Stalin An approximate answer to the right question is worth a good deal more than the exact answer to an approximate problem. John Tukey Where is the knowledge that is lost in information? Where is the wisdom that is lost in knowledge? T.S.Elliot The Universe is a grand book which cannot be read until one first learns to comprehend the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics. Galileo Galilei If you live to be one hundred you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. George Burns There are two kinds of statistics: the kind you look up and the kind you make up. Rex Stout A small error at the outset can lead to great errors in the final conclusions. Saint Thomas Aquinas
Statistically Speaking …4 There are no facts, only interpretations. Frederick Nietzsche The best we can do is size up the chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate our ability to deal with them, and then make our plans with confidence. Henry Ford Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything. Gregg Easterbrook It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics. George Bernard Shaw He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than for illumination. Andrew Lang I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics. Mark Twain Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures. Evan Esar There is a special department of Hell for students of probability. In this department there are many typewriters and many monkeys. Every time that a monkey walks on a typewriter, it types by chance one of Shakespeare's sonnets. Bertrand Russell
Statistically Speaking …5 And here’s what they all said…