Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Quote of the day

"[Statistics] means never having to say you're sure."

I first heard this from John Elder, and it is documented here where John presented an summary of the Symposium on the Interface conference for SIGKDD Explorations (Jun06), though I think he gave the talk initially at KDD-98.

John doesn't name who said it though, and have never heard him name the person. Maybe so many have said it, that it is just one of those anonymous quotes that is ubiquitous, but in a quick search, the only place I found it was as a reference--in the title of a talk at a Fisheries conference:

Hayes, D. B., and J.R. Bence. Managing under uncertainty, or, statistics is never having to say you’re sure. Michigan Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, East Lansing, MI. 1996.


Will Dwinnell said...

Good one! One of my favorites is:

If you laid all the statisticians end to end, two thirds would be under water!

Dean Abbott said...

That really deserves a place as a post rather than a comment--very funny!

Sandro Saitta said...

Your quotes are excellent. I like this simple one too: When in doubt, use statistics.

Antonia said...

And the old classic: "36.9% of statistics quoted are completely made up."

(Hi Dean! Just found the blog -it's great!)

Gilad Barash said...

Hey Dean - Just found this blog too, love it!
just wanted to share this statistics joke:
An engineer, a physicist, and a statistician were moose hunting in Canada. After a short walk they spotted a HUGE moose 100 metres away. The engineer raised his gun and fired at the moose. A puff of dust showed that the bullet landed 3 metres to the right of the moose. The physicist, realizing that there was a substantial breeze that the engineer did not account for, aimed to the left of the moose and fired. The bullet landed 3 metres to the left of the moose. The statistician jumped up and down and screamed "We got him! We got him!"

Sasha Jacobson said...

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