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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Richard von Mises Quotes

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Richard von Mises
(19 Apr 1883 - 14 Jul 1953)

Austrian-American mathematician and aerodynamicist.


Science Quotes by Richard von Mises (3 quotes)

A definition of what we mean by “probability”. … The German Dictionary by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm gives us detailed information: The Latin term “probabilis”, we are told, was at one time translated by “like truth”, or, by “with an appearance of truth” (“mit einem Schein der Wahrheit”). Only since the middle of the seventeenth century has it been rendered by “wahrscheinlich” (lit. truth-resembling).
— Richard von Mises
In Probability, Statistics, and Truth (1939, 2nd. ed., 1957), 2.
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Starting from statistical observations, it is possible to arrive at conclusions which not less reliable or useful than those obtained in any other exact science. It is only necessary to apply a clear and precise concept of probability to such observations.
— Richard von Mises
In Probability, Statistics, and Truth (1939), 1. In the 1957 edition, this was rewritten as, “Starting from statistical observations and applying to them a clear and precise concept of probability it is possible to arrive at conclusions which are just as reliable and “truth-full” and quite as practically useful as those obtained in any other exact science.”
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To illustrate the apparent contrast between statistics and truth … may I quote a remark I once overheard: “There are three kinds of lies: white lies, which are justifiable; common lies—these have no justification; and statistics.” Our meaning is similar when we say: “Anything can be proved by figures”; or, modifying a well-known quotation from Goethe, with numbers “all men may contend their charming systems to defend.”
— Richard von Mises
In Probability, Statistics, and Truth (1939), 1.
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See also:
  • 19 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Mises's birth.
  • Theory of Flight, by Richard von Mises. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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