Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > William Playfair Quotes

Thumbnail of William Playfair (source)
William Playfair
(22 Sep 1759 - 11 Feb 1823)

Scottish engineer and economist who pioneered the graphical representation of statistics, creating the line graph, bar graph and pie chart. As an engineer, he invented metal-working machines, amongst other ideas that he patented.


Science Quotes by William Playfair (8 quotes)

Geography is … only a branch of statistics, a knowledge of which is necessary to the well-understanding of the history of nations, as well as their situations relative to each other.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Branch (61)  |  Geography (25)  |  History (302)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nation (111)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Relative (24)  |  Situation (41)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Understanding (317)

Men in general are very slow to enter into what is reckoned a new thing; and there seems to be a very universal as well as great reluctance to undergo the drudgery of acquiring information that seems not to be absolutely necessary.
— William Playfair
In The Commercial and Political Atlas: Representing, by Means of Stained Copper Charts, the Progress of the Commerce, Revenues, Expenditure and Debts of England During the Whole of the Eighteenth Century (1786, 1801), 29.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolutely (24)  |  Acquiring (5)  |  Drudgery (4)  |  Generality (22)  |  Information (102)  |  Necessary (89)  |  New (340)  |  Reluctance (4)  |  Slow (36)  |  Undergo (10)  |  Universal (70)

Next to ignorance of the grammar of one’s native language, nothing betrays want of information so soon as ignorance in matters of geography, without which it is almost impossible to carry on conversation long on any general subject.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Conversation (18)  |  General (92)  |  Geography (25)  |  Grammar (10)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Information (102)  |  Language (155)  |  Native (11)  |  Subject (129)  |  Want (120)

No study is less alluring or more dry and tedious than statistics, unless the mind and imagination are set to work, or that the person studying is particularly interested in the subject; which last can seldom be the case with young men in any rank of life.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Dry (12)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Interest (170)  |  Mind (544)  |  Rank (19)  |  Seldom (21)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Study (331)  |  Subject (129)  |  Tedious (6)

Statistical accounts are to be referred to as a dictionary by men of riper years, and by young men as a grammar, to teach them the relations and proportions of different statistical subjects, and to imprint them on the mind at a time when the memory is capable of being impressed in a lasting and durable manner, thereby laying the foundation for accurate and valuable knowledge.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 5-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (45)  |  Accurate (21)  |  Capability (35)  |  Dictionary (13)  |  Difference (208)  |  Durable (2)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Grammar (10)  |  Imprint (2)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Lasting (7)  |  Manner (35)  |  Memory (81)  |  Mind (544)  |  Proportion (47)  |  Reference (17)  |  Relation (96)  |  Ripe (2)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Subject (129)  |  Teach (102)  |  Value (180)  |  Year (214)  |  Youth (57)

The bushels of rings taken from the fingers of the slain at the battle of Cannζ, above two thousand years ago, are recorded; … but the bushels of corn produced in England at this day, or the number of the inhabitants of the country, are unknown, at the very time that we are debating that most important question, whether or not there is sufficient substance for those who live in the kingdom.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 7-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Battle (30)  |  Bushel (3)  |  Corn (10)  |  Country (121)  |  Debate (19)  |  England (31)  |  Importance (183)  |  Inhabitant (19)  |  Kingdom (34)  |  Number (179)  |  Produce (63)  |  Question (315)  |  Record (56)  |  Ring (14)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Substance (73)  |  Sufficient (24)  |  Thousand (106)  |  Unknown (87)  |  Year (214)

Where vanity is not gratified, or interest promoted, knowledge is generally neglected.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Generally (9)  |  Gratification (14)  |  Interest (170)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Neglected (2)  |  Promoting (7)  |  Vanity (14)

[To give insight to statistical information] it occurred to me, that making an appeal to the eye when proportion and magnitude are concerned, is the best and readiest method of conveying a distinct idea.
— William Playfair
In The Statistical Breviary: Shewing, on a Principle Entirely New, the Resources of Every State and Kingdom in Europe (1801), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Appeal (30)  |  Best (129)  |  Distinct (29)  |  Eye (159)  |  Idea (440)  |  Information (102)  |  Magnitude (21)  |  Method (154)  |  Proportion (47)  |  Statistics (125)


See also:
  • 22 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Playfair's birth.

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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.