Statistical Quotes

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Statistical Quotes

Now, we see what we are shown. We have gotten used to being shown no matter what, within or beyond the limited range of human sight. This habituation to the monopoly of visualization-on-command strongly suggests that only those things that can in some way be visualized, recorded, and replayed at will are part of reality ... The result is a strange mistrusts of our own eyes, a disposition to take as real only that which is mechanically displayed in a photograph, a statistical curve, or a table. Eyewitness testimony must be "substantiated" by records that have been acquired, and can be stored and then shown.
— Barbara Duden —

An amusing, if rather pathetic, case study in miracles is the Great Prayer Experiment: does praying for patients help them recover? Prayers are commonly offered for sick people, both privately and in formal places of worship. Darwin's cousin Francis Galton was the first to analyse scientifically whether praying for people is efficacious. He noted that every Sunday, in churches throughout Britain, entire congregations prayed publicly for the health of the royal family. Shouldn't they, therefore, be unusually fit, compared with the rest of us, who are prayed for only by our nearest and dearest?* Galton looked into it, and found no statistical difference.

— Richard Dawkins

Dawes observed that the complex statistical algorithm adds little or no value. One can do just as well by selecting a set of scores that have some validity for predicting the outcome and adjusting the values to make them comparable (by using standard scores or ranks). A formula that combines these predictors with equal weights is likely to be just as accurate in predicting new cases as the multiple-regression formula that was optimal in the original sample. More recent research went further: formulas that assign equal weights to all the predictors are often superior, because they are not affected by accidents of sampling.

— Daniel Kahneman

We're at the point where we don't need one genome or just a few genomes to interpret your genome. We need tens of thousands of genomes as a starting point, coupled with everything we can know about their physiology. It's only when we do that giant computer search, putting all that DNA together, that we will be able to make sense in a meaningful statistical manner of what your DNA is telling you. We're just at the start of trying to do that.

— Anonymous.

Oracular ambiguity or statistical probability provides loopholes, and discrepancies are expunged by Faith.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

There is a tendency in all of us to ask for better statistical performance. There is a tendency to impose quotas behind which usually lies imposition of pressure to achieve improved statistics.

— Gordon B. Hinckley

The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify. Statistical terms and statistical methods are necessary in reporting the mass data of social and economic trends, business conditions, 'opinion' polls, the census. But without writers who use the words with honesty and understanding and readers who know what they mean, the result can only be semantic nonsense.

— Darrell Huff

Whether we like it or not, quantification in history is here to stay for reasons which the quantifiers themselves might not actively approve. We are becoming a numerate society: almost instinctively there seems now to be a greater degree of truth in evidence expressed numerically than in any literary evidence, no matter how shaky the statistical evidence, or acute the observing eye.

— J. H. Plumb

The behavior of temperature and heat and so forth can certainly be understood in terms of atoms: That's the subject known as "statistical mechanics." But it can equally well be understood without knowing anything whatsoever about atoms: That's the phenomenological approach we've been discussing, known as "thermodynamics." It is a common occurrence in physics that in complex, macroscopic systems, regular patterns emerge dynamically from underlying microscopic rules. Despite the way it is sometimes portrayed, there is no competition between fundamental physics and the study of emergent phenomena; both are fascinating and crucially important to our understanding of nature.

— Sean Carroll

The issue of poverty is not a statistical issue. It is a human issue.

— James Wolfensohn

As a doctor, as a man of science, I can tell you there is no such thing as curses Everything just happens as a question of probability. The statistical likelihood of a specific event.

— Andrew Schneider

In Egypt the neoliberal programs have meant statistical growth, like right before the Arab Spring, Egypt was a kind of poster child for the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund:] the marvelous economic management and great reform. The only problem was for most of the population it was a kind of like a blow in the solar plexus: wages going down, benefits being eliminated, subsidized food gone and meanwhile, high concentration of wealth and a huge amount of corruption.

— Noam Chomsky

Similarly, payments for a dead soldier amount to only $500,000, which is far less than standard estimates of the lifetime economic cost of a death. This statistical value of a life in the US amounts to circa $6.5 million.

— Joseph Stiglitz

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