The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Statistics

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Welcome to my page of quotations about statistics. I completed two years of upper-division stat courses at university, and — even though I doubt it was the professor's intent — the most lasting thing I learned was exactly what they say, that you can make numbers say anything. Sad, but true. So it's one of those things you've got to use responsibly if you're the one with the figures, and approach warily if you're the one consuming. But if you've intentionally come to this page, you probably already know that. Enjoy the quotes! –ღTerri

NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

98% of all statistics are made up.  ~Author Unknown

Statistics are like bikinis.  What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.  ~Aaron Levenstein

Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket.  According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.  ~Bobby Bragan, 1963

Statistics can be made to prove anything - even the truth.  ~Author Unknown

Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off.  ~Paul Brodeur, Outrageous Misconduct

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.  ~Author Unknown

Lottery:  A tax on people who are bad at math.  ~Author Unknown

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than for illumination. ~Andrew Lang

Ugly facts are a challenge to beautify them. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Three-fourths of Life," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940  [This could be taken more than one way. Does he mean a challenge to make actual improvements and change the facts, or a challenge to euphemize or mislead? My optimism leads me to read this as the former. My realism led me to post this in Statistics. —tg]

If you torture the data long enough nature will confess. ~Ronald Coase, 1960s  ["If you torture the data long enough, it will confess." ~I. J. Good's slightly inaccurate quoting of Ronald Coase, 1971. Credit: —tg]

Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases.  ~Theodor Billroth

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.  ~William W. Watt

Then there is the man who drowned crossing a stream with an average depth of six inches.  ~W.I.E. Gates

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.  ~Rex Stout, Death of a Doxy

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest.  The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.  ~Mrs. Robert A. Taft

It has been said that figures rule the world; maybe. I am quite sure that it is figures which show us whether it is being ruled well or badly. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Satan delights equally in statistics and in quoting Scripture. ~H.G. Wells, The Undying Fire, "Chapter the First: The Prologue in Heaven," 1919

The average human has one breast and one testicle.  ~Des McHale

The plural of anecdote is data. ~Raymond Wolfinger

      'Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one has some little immortal spark concealed about him. You would not think it, to look at them. There is no a priori probability about it. A strange enigma is man!'
      'Someone calls him a soul concealed in an animal,' I suggested.
      'Winwood Reade is good upon the subject,' said Holmes. 'He remarks that, while the individual 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...' ~A. Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four, 1890

A statistical analysis, properly conducted, is a delicate dissection of uncertainties, a surgery of suppositions.  ~M.J. Moroney

Statistics may be defined as "a body of methods for making wise decisions in the face of uncertainty."  ~W.A. Wallis

Statistics are just a way for the mathematician to evangelize his faith.  ~Hunter Brinkmeier

The theory of probabilities is at bottom nothing but common sense reduced to calculus.  ~Laplace, Théorie analytique des probabilités, 1820

I abhor averages.  I like the individual case.  A man may have six meals one day and none the next, making an average of three meals per day, but that is not a good way to live.  ~Louis D. Brandeis

I could prove God statistically.  Take the human body alone - the chances that all the functions of an individual would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.  ~George Gallup

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