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What New Labour began to discover was that people were more complex and devious than the simple model allowed. Adam Curtis, The Trap II: The Lonely Robot, BBC 2007
Hospital managers proved to be particularly devious. When they were set targets to cut waiting lists, they ordered consultants to do the easiest operations first, like bunions and vasectomies. Complicated ones like cancers were no longer prioritised. And they found other clever ways of getting people off the lists. ibid.
‘We were statistics that became specialists and that’s why we’re here really.’ Mike Tyson, at Lennox Lewis presentation
If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment. Ernest Rutherford
Perhaps we can get on with the nasty business of the unemployment statistics. Spitting Image s1e3, Mrs Thatcher to Cabinet, ITV 1984
The scientific process operates in two phases, the empirical and the statistical.
In the first phase, a scientist seeks uniform patterns in the universe based on empirical observations (‘empirical’ meaning based on data received by our senses, as this is, after all, the only means we have).
... The second phase of the scientific method ... a scientist must perform a series of tests that will either verify or refute his original hypothesis. This is where the statistical phase enters the picture.
After our scientist feels confident that he has obtained sufficient statistical evidence to support his theory ... he will disclose his findings to those around him, more specifically to the rest of the world’s scientific community.
Now it is the duty of the scientific community to review this person’s hypothesis by performing their own series of tests. This is necessary as the conclusions of one sole observer should never be accepted as adequate proof of anything.
... As this process continues, one by one, our ever-sceptical scientific community will conduct as many tests as it can think of before offering to support a theory. Only after a sufficient amount of supporting statistical data is obtained might the scientific community be willing to give credence to a theory. Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Properly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences
It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics. George Bernard Shaw
Sir Humphrey: You can prove anything with statistics.
Jim: Even the truth. Yes, Prime Minister s1e3: The Smoke Screen, BBC 1986
[John] Graunt was the founding father of statistics and epidemiology. The study of patterns, causes and effects of disease. And it’s the same power of data has become fantastically valuable. Horizon – The Age of Big Data, BBC 2013
Goodhart’s law said that if ever the government decides to rely on any particular statistical relationship as a basis for policy, as soon as it did that, that relationship would fall apart. And that’s just what happened. Professor Charles Goodhart
We are just statistics, born to consume resources. Horace, Epistles
Bastardy In England & Wales as indicated by the Registers of Births 1842. Royal Statistical Society London journal
The world we live in is awash with data ... We need a powerful branch of science – statistics. Believe me, there is nothing boring about statistics. Professor Hans Rosling, The Joy of Stats, BBC 2010
With statistics we can really make sense of the world. ibid.
Statistics tells us whether the things we think and believe are actually true. ibid.
Public statistics is making citizens more powerful and the authorities more accountable. ibid.
Right across Europe nineteenth-century society went mad for facts. ibid.
The variation in data is just as important as the average. ibid.
The normal distribution shape occurred time and time again. ibid.
Nightingale’s graphics are rightly considered a classic. ibid.
A great correlation – the link that was established in the 1950s between smoking and lung cancer. ibid.
The data deluge is staggering. ibid.
Lies, damned lies and statistics. Author Unknown, probably false attribution to Benjamin Disraeli; viz also Mark Twain
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. Joseph Stalin
Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable. Mark Twain
Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. George E P Box, attributed and cited ‘Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces’
To understand God’s thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose. Florence Nightingale, cited Karl Pearson ‘Life of Francis Galton’
There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up. Archie Goodwin, cited Rex Stout’s ‘Nero Wolfe novel Death of a Doxy’
Statistics has been the most successful information science. Bradley Efron, attributed and cited Jerome H Friedman ‘The Role of Statistics in the Data Revolution’
Those who ignore Statistics are condemned to reinvent it. Bradley Efron cited ibid.
I am the one in ten
A number on a list
I am the one in ten
Even though I don’t exist
Nobody knows me
Even though I’m always there
A statistic, a reminder
Of a world that doesn’t care. UB40, I Am a One in Ten
The possession stats at one point were 77% to 33%. Mick Quinn
Statistical significance is in fact easy to fake. The Corbett Report: The Crisis of Science, 2019