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Who said: “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”
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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index S > Category: Statistician

Statistician Quotes (16 quotes)

Air Chief Marshal Harris [objecting to a change in strategy recommended by statisticians]: Are we fighting this war with weapons or the slide rule?
Churchill [after puffing on his cigar]: That's a good idea. Let's try the slide rule.
During World War II, Britain lost the advantage when enemy U-boats began listening in to the aircraft radar, were forewarned, and would dive. U-boat sinkings fell to zero. Physicist Patrick S. Blackett with his Operational Research colleagues came up with a solution. Concentrate sufficient aircraft in certain areas, causing the subs to dive so frequently their air supply and batteries were exhausted, forcing them to remain on the surface and be vulnerable to attack. The strategy required diverting several squadrons from Bomber Command to Coastal Command. “Bomber” Harris voiced his objection to Churchill, who made the right choice, proved by successful results. As described by R.V. Jones, 'Churchill and Science', in Robert Blake and Wm. Roger Louis (eds.), Churchill (1996), 437.
Science quotes on:  |  Patrick M.S. Blackett (9)  |  Fighting (2)  |  Idea (440)  |  Strategy (8)  |  Try (103)  |  War (144)  |  Weapon (57)

A statistician carefully assembles the facts and figures for others who carefully misinterpret them.
Anonymous
In Evan Esar, 20,000 Quips and Quotes (1995), 765.
Science quotes on:  |  Assemble (8)  |  Facts (3)

A statistician is a person who believes that if you put your head in a furnace and your feet in a bucket of iced water, on the average you should feel reasonably comfortable.
Anonymous
Found, for example, in Planning a Prevention Program: A Handbook for the Youth Worker in an Alcohol Service Agency (1977), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Average (31)  |  Belief (400)  |  Bucket (4)  |  Comfortable (6)  |  Foot (39)  |  Furnace (10)  |  Head (52)  |  Ice (29)

A statistician is someone who is good with numbers but lacks the personality to be an accountant.
[Or economist]
Anonymous
Found, for example, in A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book (4th ed., 2005), 216. Also seen as defining an Economist in Eighteen Annual Institute on Securities Regulation (1987), 131, which quotes it as “Tim Wirth used to say.”
Science quotes on:  |  Accountant (2)  |  Economist (13)  |  Lack (52)  |  Number (179)  |  Personality (40)

If your result needs a statistician then you should design a better experiment.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Better (131)  |  Design (92)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Need (211)  |  Result (250)

In India, there’s lack of appreciation of the need to cross-examine data, the responsibility of a statistician.
In India Today (2008), 33, No. 9-17, 130
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciation (19)  |  Data (100)  |  India (15)  |  Lack (52)  |  Need (211)  |  Responsibility (47)

Statistician: A man who believes figures don't lie but admits that, under analysis some of them won't stand up either.
Evan Esar
The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (1949). In Robert Harris Shutler, Mathematics 436 - Finely Explained (2004), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Definition (152)  |  Lie (80)  |  Number (179)  |  Quip (75)

Statistician: A man who believes figures don’t lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won’t stand up either.
Anonymous
From Evan Esar, Esar’s Comic Dictionary (1943), as cited in Raymond Rowe and Joseph Chamberlain, A Spoonful of Sugar: 1,001 Quotations (2007), 56.
Science quotes on:  |  Admit (22)  |  Analysis (123)  |  Belief (400)  |  Figure (32)  |  Lie (80)  |  Verify (9)

Statistician: One who knows which numbers to use in any eventuality.
Anonymous
Science quotes on:  |  Eventuality (2)  |  Know (321)  |  Number (179)

Statisticians tell us that for many years the death-rate from cancer has been slowly but steadily rising: and not unnaturally, many people conclude from this that for some reason or other we are becoming more susceptible to cancer. Actually, that conclusion does not follow at all. The rise in the cancer death-rate is probably due entirely to the fact that other causes of death have been reduced. Numbers of people who, if they had been born a century earlier, would have died in their twenties of typhoid or smallpox, say, are now living on into their seventies and dying of cancer.
From 'Figures Can Lie', Science Digest (Sep 1951), 30, No. 3, 53. (As condensed from The Listener). Excerpted in Meta Riley Emberger and Marian Ross Hall, Scientific Writing (1955), 407.
Science quotes on:  |  Cancer (44)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Death Rate (2)  |  Fact (609)  |  Increase (107)  |  Reduce (32)  |  Smallpox (12)  |  Typhoid (6)

Statistics is, or should be, about scientific investigation and how to do it better, but many statisticians believe it is a branch of mathematics.
In Technometrics (1990), 32, 251-252.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Better (131)  |  Branch (61)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Statistics (125)

The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.
In David Leonhardt, 'John Tukey, 85, Statistician; Coined the Word ‘Software’', New York Times (28 Jul 2000). No citation, except “Mr. Tukey once told a colleague.”
Science quotes on:  |  Backyard (4)  |  Best (129)  |  Play (60)

The investigation of causal relations between economic phenomena presents many problems of peculiar difficulty, and offers many opportunities for fallacious conclusions. Since the statistician can seldom or never make experiments for himself, he has to accept the data of daily experience, and discuss as best he can the relations of a whole group of changes; he cannot, like the physicist, narrow down the issue to the effect of one variation at a time. The problems of statistics are in this sense far more complex than the problems of physics.
Udny Yule
In 'On the Theory of Correlation', Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Dec 1897), 60, 812, as cited in Stephen M. Stigler, The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900 (1986), 348.
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The reason that, having started as a chemist, I became a statistician was that Statistics seemed to me of much greater importance. It was about the catalysis of scientific method itself.
In article Total Quality: Its Origins and its Future (1995), published at the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement.
Science quotes on:  |  Catalysis (6)  |  Chemist (79)  |  Greater (36)  |  Importance (183)  |  Reason (330)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Start (68)  |  Statistics (125)

Winwood Reade … remarks that while a man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.
Character Sherlock Holmes recommends Winwood Reade’s book The Martyrdom of Man to Dr. Watson in The Sign of the Four (1890), 196. Earlier in the novel, Holmes calls Reade’s book “one of the most remarkable ever penned.” Reade is a real person and his book was published in 1872. The actual statement in it reads: “As a single atom man is an enigma: as a whole he is a mathematical problem.”
Science quotes on:  |  Aggregate (8)  |  Average (31)  |  Certain (84)  |  Constant (40)  |  Foretell (5)  |  Individual (177)  |  Insoluble (13)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Percentage (6)  |  Precision (38)  |  Puzzle (30)  |  Winwood Reade (10)  |  Remain (77)  |  Vary (14)

“What’s the collective noun for a group of statisticians?”
"A quarrel."
In Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, The Theory that Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy (2011), 51. The author cryptically footnotes the source as “Tukey, according to Brillinger e-mail.” Presumably, these would be John W. Tukey (1915-2000) and his student David R. Brillinger (1937-)
Science quotes on:  |  Collective (16)  |  Group (52)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Noun (2)  |  Quarrel (9)


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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