Statisticians

Excerpted from "Quotes, damned quotes and..." by John Bibby.

Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different. (Goethe)

If there is a 50-50 chance that something can go wrong, then 9 times out of ten it will. (Paul Harvey News, 1979)

"Give us a copper Guv," said the beggar to the Treasury statistician when he waylaid him in Parliament square. "I haven't eaten for three days." "Ah," said the statistician, "And how does that compare with the same period last year?" (Russell Lewis)

"I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic." (Winston Churchill)

"You haven't told me yet," said Lady Nuttal, "what it is your fiance does for a living?"

"He's a statistician," replied Lamia, with an annoying sense of being on the defensive.

Lady Nuttal was obviously taken aback. It had not occurred to her that statisticians entered into normal social relationships. The species, she would have surmised, was perpetuated in some collateral manner, like mules.

"But Aunt Sara, it's a very interesting profession," said Lamia warmly.

"I don't doubt it," said her aunt, who obviously doubted it very much. "To express anything important in mere figures is so plainly impossible that there must be endless scope for well-paid advice on how to do it. But don't you think that life with a statistician would be rather, shall we say, humdrum?"

Lamia was silent. She felt reluctant to discuss the surprising depth of emotional possibility which she had discovered below Edward's numerical veneer.

"It's not the figures themselves," she said finally. "it's what you do with them that matters." (K.A.C. Manderville, The undoing of Lamia Gurdleneck)

Submitted by: anon
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