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Well we've got favourite statistics quotes. What about statistics jokes?

So, what's your favourite statistics joke?

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I made this community wiki as there is no correct answer. –  Rob Hyndman Aug 6 '10 at 2:44
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It probably makes sense to leave cartoons in this question: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/423/… –  Jeromy Anglim Aug 8 '10 at 11:49
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This is a popular and much-loved thread, even though it does not (on the face of it) seem to conform to SE standards for content. (Just what practical question is being asked here? :-) Some rules benefit from being ... bent ... once in a while. However, please don't use the existence of this thread to justify creating new ones that fall outside our guidelines unless you think there is a very good reason to do so! Questions about site policy are always appropriate in Meta and debate is warmly welcomed in chat. –  whuber Jan 24 '12 at 15:34

57 Answers 57

A statistician's wife had twins. He was delighted. He rang the minister who was also delighted. "Bring them to church on Sunday and we'll baptize them," said the minister. "No," replied the statistician. "Baptize one. We'll keep the other as a control."

STATS: The Magazine For Students of Statistics, Winter 1996, Number 15

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I do not have enough reputation to downvote this! –  Ηλίας Oct 13 '10 at 17:41

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon and he's lost. So he lowers himself over a field and shouts to a guy on the ground:

"Can you tell me where I am, and which way I'm headed?" "Sure! You're at 43 degrees, 12 minutes, 21.2 seconds north; 123 degrees, 8 minutes, 12.8 seconds west. You're at 212 meters above sea level. Right now, you're hovering, but on your way in here you were at a speed of 1.83 meters per second at 1.929 radians"

"Thanks! By the way, are you a statistician?" "I am! But how did you know?"

"Everything you've told me is completely accurate; you gave me more detail than I needed, and you told me in such a way that it's no use to me at all!"

"Dang! By the way, are you a principal investigator?"

"Geeze! How'd you know that????"

"You don't know where you are, you don't know where you're going. You got where you are by blowing hot air, you start asking questions after you get into trouble, and you're in exactly the same spot you were a few minutes ago, but now, somehow, it's my fault!

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Love this one!! –  Adhesh Josh Nov 22 '11 at 7:47
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This is hilarious and true –  Macro Jul 6 '12 at 14:22

I saw this posted as a comment on here somewhere:

http://xkcd.com/552/

alt text

A: I used to think correlation implied causation. Then I took a statistics class. Now I don't.

B: Sounds like the class helped.

A: Well, maybe.

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You should also quote the title attribute of the image: "Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there'." –  nico Aug 6 '10 at 7:15

George Burns said that "If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age."

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I remember seeing George Burns on TV being interviewed on his 100th birthday. He was puffing on a cigar. The interviewer made some comment about the incongruity of longevity and smoking. George Burns: "Twenty years ago my doctor told me that these cigars were going to kill me" Interviewer: "What does he say now?" George Burns: "I don't know. He's dead" –  Thylacoleo Aug 7 '10 at 9:17

Two statisticians were traveling in an airplane from LA to New York. About an hour into the flight, the pilot announced that they had lost an engine, but don’t worry, there are three left. However, instead of 5 hours it would take 7 hours to get to New York.

A little later, he announced that a second engine failed, and they still had two left, but it would take 10 hours to get to New York.

Somewhat later, the pilot again came on the intercom and announced that a third engine had died. Never fear, he announced, because the plane could fly on a single engine. However, it would now take 18 hours to get to New York.

At this point, one statistician turned to the other and said, “Gee, I hope we don’t lose that last engine, or we’ll be up here forever!”

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I think originaly taken from Yihui XIE's Statistics Jokes Slides (yihui.name/en/attachment.php?f=attachment/jokes_yihui.pdf) –  PaulHurleyuk Aug 6 '10 at 9:57
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that link is broken now; please use yihui.name/en/2007/10/… thanks! –  Yihui May 28 '13 at 5:40

One passed by Gary Ramseyer:

Statistics play an important role in genetics. For instance, statistics prove that numbers of offspring is an inherited trait. If your parent didn't have any kids, odds are you won't either.

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I'd bet on that. –  naught101 May 2 '12 at 0:14

Statistics may be dull, but it has its moments.

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A statistics major was completely hung over the day of his final exam. It was a true/false test, so he decided to flip a coin for the answers. The statistics professor watched the student the entire two hours as he was flipping the coin … writing the answer … flipping the coin … writing the answer. At the end of the two hours, everyone else had left the final except for the one student. The professor walks up to his desk and interrupts the student, saying, “Listen, I have seen that you did not study for this statistics test, you didn’t even open the exam. If you are just flipping a coin for your answer, what is taking you so long?” The student replies bitterly (as he is still flipping the coin), “Shhh! I am checking my answers!”

I've posted a few others on my blog.

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From the CMU protest at G20:

CMU Protests at G20

There are other pictures from the protest as well.

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A statistician confidently tried to cross a river that was 1 meter deep on average. He drowned.

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He should have measured the standard deviation. –  Chthonic Project Jul 3 '13 at 16:02
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Sounds more like a science journalist to me... –  Nick Stauner Feb 20 at 1:23

"If you torture data enough it will confess" one of my professors

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Was his name Ronald Coase? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Coase#Quotes –  onestop Oct 13 '10 at 20:26

A mathematician, a physicist and a statistician went hunting for deer. When they chanced upon one buck lounging about, the mathematician fired first, missing the buck's nose by a few inches. The physicist then tried his hand, and missed the tail by a wee bit. The statistician started jumping up and down saying "We got him! We got him!"

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If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct?

A) 25%

B) 50%

C) 60%

D) 25%

(was published on ANZSTAT mailing list a couple of days ago).

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And it soon got protected on math.SE, Does this question even have an answer? :) –  chl Nov 2 '11 at 8:25
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To every simple question there is a simple answer. And it's wrong. –  zbicyclist Nov 4 '11 at 4:19
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This was subsequently discussed here at stats.stackexchange.com/questions/30325/…. –  whuber Jul 24 '13 at 21:41

This is actually a quote that (unintendedly) happens to be a joke:

"Every American should have above average income, and my Administration is going to see they get it." (Bill Clinton on campaign trail)

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Based on Google, this quote sure looks apocryphal. –  David Robinson Aug 2 '12 at 16:18
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One way to make this come to pass is to fine one individual ten trillion dollars. –  whuber Jul 24 '13 at 21:40

I thought I'd start the ball rolling with my favourite.

"Being a statistician means never having to say you are certain."

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That is certainly true! –  Tal Galili Aug 6 '10 at 18:30
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My mom in law said to me that this is based on the line "being in love means you never need to say you are sorry". From a book called "love story" by arik sigall (I think). –  Tal Galili Aug 6 '10 at 18:33
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@Tal Galili: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. (My favorite is the line from What's Up, Doc?) –  mmyers Aug 11 '10 at 19:23

Yo momma is so mean, she has no standard deviation!

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Here is a list of many fun statistics jokes (link)

Here are just a few:


Did you hear the one about the statistician? Probably....


It is proven that the celebration of birthdays is healthy. Statistics show that those people who celebrate the most birthdays become the oldest. -- S. den Hartog, Ph D. Thesis Universtity of Groningen.


A statistician is a person who draws a mathematically precise line from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion.


The average statistician is just plain mean.


And there is also the one from a TED talk:

"A friend asked my wife what I do. She answered that I model. Model what, she was asked - he models genes, she answered."

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That link has since moved to se16.info/hgb/statjoke.htm –  Henry May 23 '13 at 22:57

I once asked out a statistician.

She failed to reject me.

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Why are open source statistical programming languages the best?

Because they R.

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A statistic professor plans to travel to a conference by plane. When he passes the security check, they discover a bomb in his carry-on-baggage. Of course, he is hauled off immediately for interrogation.

"I don't understand it!" the interrogating officer exclaims. "You're an accomplished professional, a caring family man, a pillar of your parish - and now you want to destroy that all by blowing up an airplane!"

"Sorry", the professor interrupts him. "I had never intended to blow up the plane."

"So, for what reason else did you try to bring a bomb on board?!"

"Let me explain. Statistics shows that the probability of a bomb being on an airplane is 1/1000. That's quite high if you think about it - so high that I wouldn't have any peace of mind on a flight."

"And what does this have to do with you bringing a bomb on board of a plane?"

"You see, since the probability of one bomb being on my plane is 1/1000, the chance that there are two bombs is 1/1000000. If I already bring one, the chance of another bomb being around is actually 1/1000000, and I am much safer..."

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This joke falls flat for me because I can't imagine a statistic professor saying this - a student who failed the course, sure. –  rpierce Aug 6 '10 at 19:25
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If we came up with some "other" group who claims to use statistics but does so incorrectly, we could come up with a slur for that group and make dirty jokes (like this one) about them. –  Thomas Levine Jun 25 '11 at 4:49

Here's a groaner: Q: What do you call 100 statisticians at a tea party? A: A Z-Party.

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Very funny! (more characters) –  Tal Galili Jun 23 '11 at 12:08

Did you hear about the General Motors test for autocorrelation? Or the General Mills test for serial correlation?

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67% of statistics are made up.

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Is this statistics also made up? ;) –  Blain Waan Oct 23 '12 at 19:26
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Related: dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-05-08 –  Joel Reyes Noche Jan 3 '13 at 13:21

I'm posting this under "jokes", but the facts are completely accurate. See www.amstat.org/membersonly and click on Reverse Time Capsule.

To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the American Statistical Association, the ASA has a “reverse time capsule” project. Members answer questions forecasting what various aspects of the world will be like in 2039.

The entrants are all professional statisticians willing to pay membership fees, so it’s an elite group. What’s the prize? “When the reverse time capsule is opened in 2039, members with the best guesses will be rewarded with a lifetime membership in the ASA.”

Not much incentive for me. In 2039, I will be 89 years old, if I’m still alive. While I hope to be mentally active at that time, I’m probably not going to be working as a professional statistician. Even if I am, the plausible length of a lifetime membership beginning at age 89 is very short.

What would be interesting would be to do this in reverse: everyone who enters gets a lifetime membership in the ASA starting now. When the time capsule is opened in 2039, those who didn’t win would have to pay up.

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One day there was a fire in a wastebasket in the office of the Dean of Sciences. In rushed a physicist, a chemist, and a statistician. The physicist immediately starts to work on how much energy would have to be removed from the fire to stop the combustion. The chemist works on which reagent would have to be added to the fire to prevent oxidation. While they are doing this, the statistician is setting fires to all the other wastebaskets in the office. "What are you doing?" the others demand. The statistician replies, "Well, to solve the problem, you obviously need a larger sample size."

Quoted by Steve Simon, www.pmean.com, and attributed to Gary C. Ramseyer's First Internet Gallery of Statistics Jokes at www.ilstu.edu/~gcramsey/Gallery.html.

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This one's from the xkcd forums:

Three statisticians are out hunting. Bird flies up out of the bush, and the first statistician aims and fires. Unfortunately for them, he missed, the bullet going about a foot below the bird. The second one fires, but the bullet goes about a foot above the bird.

The third statistician puts down his gun and says, "All right! We got him!..."

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This one is much older than xkcd, LOL! Did you read J.M.'s contribution (August 9)? Same joke, different animal. –  whuber Oct 13 '10 at 15:21

Statisticians do it with significance
Biostatisticians do it with power
Epidemiologists do it with populations
Bayesians do it with a posterior

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How many statisticians does it take to change a light bulb?
5–7, with p-value 0.01

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Five to seven -- I'll try to convert it to en-dash. –  mbq Aug 6 '10 at 17:53

A circus strongman, a physicist and a statistician are stranded on a desert island. They have fruit and fish, and it rains a lot, so they aren't starving, but they are still happy when they find a cache of canned fruit.

The physicist says to the strongman - "If you climb that tree, and throw the cans against a rock, the force will burst the cans open. We'll lose some, but it's better than nothing"

The strongman says "No, I can open the cans with my teeth. It'll hurt, but I should be able to do it"

They turn to the statistician who says "First, assume we have a can opener".

(I originally heard this with an economist instead of statistician, but I think both work)

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Bayesian: I am your father.

Fiducialist: Noooooooooo!

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