27
Mar

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
havent 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 havent told me yet, said Lady Nuttal, what it is your
fiance does for a living?

Hes 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, its a very interesting profession, said Lamia
warmly.

I dont 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 dont 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
Edwards numerical veneer.

Its not the figures themselves, she said finally. its what
you do with them that matters. (K.A.C. Manderville, The undoing
of Lamia Gurdleneck)

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