There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up - Rex Todhunter Stout

25 Powerful Statistics Quotes with the Flavour of Science

It was either the famous writer Mark Twain or the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

This saying means that statistics can be used for very wrong purposes and the persuasive power of numbers can assist to strengthen weak arguments.

As long ago as 1889, Carroll D. Wright (a prominent statistician) said, “The old saying is that ‘figures will not lie,’ but a new saying is ‘liars will figure’.

This collection of statistics quotes tries to show the opposite and make the point that statistics are connected to science. Statistics are not there to pervert the truth in the interests of a theory somebody wishes to establish.

The quotes are sorted in chronological order by the birth date of the author. Enjoy!

By a small sample,
we may judge
of the whole piece.

Miguel de Cervantes,
from his novel “Don Quixote”

(1547 – 1616; Spanish novelist, poet and playwright)

Statistics Quotes: Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it well, the Samurai - Jonathan Rosenberg

Statistics are no substitute
for judgement.

Henry Clay, Sr.

(1777 – 1852, American lawyer,
politician and skilled orator)

Errors using inadequate data
are much less
than those
using no data at all.

Charles Babbage

(1791 – 1871, English polymath,
inventor and mechanical engineer)

While nothing is more uncertain
than a single life,
nothing is more certain
than the average duration
of a thousand lives.

Elizur Wright

(1804 – 1885, American mathematician,
“father of life insurance” for his
pioneering work on actuarial tables)

Facts are stubborn things,
but statistics are pliable.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
better known by his pen name Mark Twain

(1835 – 1910, American author and humourist)

We must be careful
not to confuse data
with the abstractions
we use to analyse them.

William James

(1842 – 1910, American philosopher and psychologist)

Statistics show
that of those
who contract the habit of eating,
very few survive.

George Bernard Shaw

(1856 – 1950; Irish playwright)

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