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Statistics Quotes

  • "Almost everyone in Sweden has more than the average number of legs. That’s a statistic, and understanding why it’s true delivers a crash course in how averages can sometimes divert from common sense, and how an understanding of the importance of distribution can bring them back in line again (essentially you need to remember that not one of Sweden’s amputees is offset by a Swede with three legs)."
    Tom Sutcliffe, British journalist and broadcaster
    Reviewing BBC TV documentary The Joy of Stats with Professor Hans Rosling
    Source: Independent (London) (December 8, 2010)
  • "The Budget has been presented as a necessity … backed up by piles of figures that sound apocalyptic but mean nothing by themselves, like “We now owe £800 for every insect in Britai,” or “The debt burden is equivalent to 300 years on a premium rate girl-on-girl action chatline” or “The deficit is more than the value of the moon.”"
    Mark Steel (1960–), British comedian and author
    On the UK’s 2010 “emergency Budget”
    Source: Independent (London) (June 24, 2010)
  • "I have been to sales seminars where the motivational speaker implied to 250 real estate professionals from the same company that all of them could be the firm’s number one salesperson next year."
    Steve Salerno, US journalist and author
    Source: Sham: How the Gurus of the Self-help Movement Make Us Helpless (2005)
  • "Data, as used to map regularities, quantities, frequencies, probabilities, and so on, produces a landscape rich in surreal potential … Facts about tea drinking and dog excreting are produced via a range of information: they coalesce as a composite form—one giant dog, one giant turd, one monstrous orchestrated chorus of tea drinking."
    Ben Highmore, British cultural theorist
    Source: Day-to-Day Data (2005)
  • "Numbers in all their impersonality are democracy’s ideal language, suited for gods, machines, and collectives … The metaphysical status of numbers is profoundly ambiguous: They are concrete and imaginary, precise and intangible, mechanical and intellectual, human and inhuman."
    John Durham Peters (1958–), US historian and social theorist
    Source: Political Communication (October 2001)
  • "Employing data bases and statistical skills, academics compute with precision the beta of a stock … then build arcane investment and capital-allocation theories around this calculation. In their hunger for a single statistic to measure risk they forget a fundamental principle: It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong."
    Warren Buffett (1930–), US entrepreneur and financier
    Source: Chairman’s letter to shareholders (March 7, 1995)
  • "Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfilment."
    Jean Baudrillard (19292007), French philosopher
    Source: Cool Memories (1987)
  • "The average family exists only on paper and its average budget is a fiction, invented by statisticians for the convenience of statisticians."
    Sylvia Porter (19131991), US journalist and finance expert
    Source: Sylvia Porter's Money Book (1975)
  • "There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up."
    Rex Stout (18861975), US writer
    Source: Death of a Doxy (1966)
  • "Statistical figures referring to economic events are historical data. They tell us what happened in a nonrepeatable case."
    Ludwig von Mises (18811973), US economist
    Source: Human Action (1949)
  • "Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death."
    Hilaire Belloc (18701953), British writer and politician
    Source: Silence of the Sea (1941)
  • "Never cross a river because it is on average four feet deep."
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb (1960–), Lebanese-born US academic and writer, former derivatives trader
    Source: Attributed

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