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This is one of my favorites:

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One entry per answer. This is in the vein of the Stack Overflow question What’s your favorite “programmer” cartoon?.

P.S. Do not hotlink the cartoon without the site's permission please.

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@sharpie: are jokes out? We obviously don't want the entire site to be humor, but everyone benefits from a little educational humor in small doses. – Shane Jul 22 '10 at 5:15
    
@Sharpie, feel free to close or reopen according to your feelings! I agree with Shane, a bit is ok, but not too much. For example, this question already included a funny cartoon. The jokes question not really a funny joke.... – Peter Smit Jul 22 '10 at 13:58
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These cartoons are useful too; they can be included in a lecture on a particular topic where you are trying to explain a concept (e.g. correlation/causation above). A little humor can help to keep an audience engaged. – Shane Jul 22 '10 at 14:22
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According to the tour, this question should be closed, since it is a question that has "too many possible answers" and since it is "primarily opinion-based". I'm not complaining, just surprised it has stayed open for this long. – Flimm Dec 9 '14 at 10:29
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Data Science analogy to cartoon in OP. Data Scientist: I went to data science bootcamp and learned how to find correlations in big data. Those insights can be converted into big money. Statistician: But many of those correlations are spurious. Correlation does not imply causation. Data Scientist: Don't give me none of that century old statistics mumbo-jumbo. This is big data. That means the data has everything. So by definition, all relationships in the data are correct. I ring the cash register while you snooze and lose, grandpa. – Mark L. Stone Dec 19 '15 at 22:42

70 Answers 70

I don't think this one was posted yet... enter image description here

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I like the percentages given in the third panel. – cardinal May 8 '12 at 23:00

Source: unknown. Posted on flowingdata.com.

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enter image description here

"The bridge of life"

I took this image from here. This is a "Painting commissioned by Karl Pearson", see. It is considered as a predecessor of the hazard function.

The 'Death' attempts to kill you at different ages using different sorts of weapons which are related to the "failure probability" at the corresponding age.

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It would help dense people like me to see some brief explanation of how this is specifically related to data analysis. Also, please acknowledge (or at least link to) the source: give credit where credit is due. – whuber May 11 '12 at 19:48
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@whuber Thanks for your comment. I added a bit of details in order to clarify its meaning and relationship with statistics. – user10525 May 11 '12 at 23:15
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Is this Avignon bridge? – Curious Sep 29 '12 at 23:10
    
@Tomas It looks similar indeed. – user10525 Oct 1 '12 at 13:32

From SMBC:

alt text

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Is it churlish to wince when I read "data is"? – Chris Beeley Dec 26 '10 at 23:06
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Not churlish. Petulant. – rolando2 Apr 6 '11 at 10:28
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Not Petulant. Literate. ;) – A.M. Aug 15 '13 at 18:50
    
I wince more that idea that all perspectives are subjectively situated is sad. – Alexis Jun 15 '14 at 22:48

enter image description here

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

And the votey (a sort of black-and-white epilogue unique to SMBC):

enter image description here

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image​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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This is just one flag for torture never being funny, even indirectly or allusively. – Nick Cox Nov 12 '13 at 18:11
    
@NickCox, sorry, my english is not enough to understand your sentence.. – Curious Nov 14 '13 at 17:45
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@NickCox, come on, it's just numbers! :) – Curious Nov 14 '13 at 18:14
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@NickCox, how does my cartoon allude to people anyhow? Its about data, not people! – Curious Nov 14 '13 at 21:27
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Ironically, this cartoon uses "torture" in a common, among statisticians, metaphorical sense of "analyze incorrectly". The humor comes from the fact that it just happens to recall a word meaning something else... But the cartoon isn't about torture, it's about abuse of statistical methods. Though, perhaps one might contend that abuse is also a serious and weighty matter, and for that matter, so is weight... – Superbest Feb 26 '14 at 12:18

Figure 1. Guitar beaver + keyboard duck ≈ keytar platypus. From tenso GRAPHICS, as claimed on REDDIT.

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+1, now that is awesome! – gung Feb 20 '14 at 1:09
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I like that it took me a second, and then another second to get the second joke. :) – Alexis Jun 15 '14 at 22:56

Another one from xkcd:

enter image description here

Hover Text:

Knuth Paper-Stack Notation: Write down the number on pages. Stack them. If the stack is too tall to fit in the room, write down the number of pages it would take to write down the number. THAT number won't fit in the room? Repeat. When a stack fits, write the number of iterations on a card. Pin it to the stack.

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Was just about to add this. Thanks :) – Tal Galili Jan 22 '13 at 7:23

This is not a cartoon, but a joke worth mentioning:

A statistic professor travels 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. This way I am much safer..."

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Independence!!! – KH Kim May 12 '12 at 10:28
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But if you know that "there is a bomb" (yours) in the plane, which we may call event $A$, and you are willing to accept that the "existence of a second bomb" (event $B$) is independent of $A$, then $P(B\mid A)=P(B)=1/1000$. Always condition on what you know. And yeah, I deserve a $-1$ for screwing a good joke. – Zen Aug 28 '12 at 18:52
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@Zen again, why do you explain this? Even the security check guy in the story understand this, intuitivelly... don't analyze a joke :-) – Curious Sep 29 '12 at 21:46
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By the way, as far as I know, the person who first described this anecdote was none other than Hugo Steinhaus (of the Steinhaus-Banach theorem fame) in his "Mathematical Kaleidoscope". – January Nov 9 '12 at 12:50
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Reminds me of Baldrick's Bullet: youtube.com/watch?v=pKRxX3s3JlM – Bitwise Jul 14 '13 at 1:00

Explaining Away

Since these are a rather sampling theoretic set of cartoons so far, here's one for the Bayesians. (Actually I set it as a class question last year.)

Explaining Away

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XKCD link is xkcd.com/690 – Kevin O'Bryant Jan 6 at 20:30
    
Thanks. Changed the URL to the one recommended for embedding (not the one you suggest). – conjugateprior Jan 6 at 20:41

There is very meaningful chart.

Bizarro

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Because It's PIE, make me laught LOL. hahaha http://portal-statistik.blogspot.comenter image description here

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pie chart example

an 'easy to digest' pie chart example for Rick Astley fans that my students seem to enjoy

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Are those mutually exclusive events? :-) – cardinal Oct 21 '13 at 1:32

A Frequentists vs. Bayesians cartoon from XKCD!

http://xkcd.com/1132/

Mouse-hover transcript:

'Detector! What would the Bayesian statistician say if I asked whether the--' [roll] 'I AM A NEUTRINO DETECTOR, NOT A LABYRINTH GUARD. SERIOUSLY, DID YOUR BRAIN FALL OUT?' [roll] '... Yes.'

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I am not sure about this one ... the Frequentist Reasoning seems wrong to me but I cannot explain why :(. – steffen Nov 9 '12 at 13:50
    
Because of obvious trying to score a cheap point with deliberate misrepresentation, one of the few xkcd comics I don't like. – Momo Nov 9 '12 at 13:52
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I'm biased towards the Bayesian interpretation, but the frequentist appears to me to be consistent with the standard frequentist interpretation. I hate null hypothesis significance testing, but if you want to go that route, it seems the null hypothesis is that the sun did not explode. If the null hypothesis is true, the chances of observing a "Yes" would indeed be $\frac{1}{36}$ (negligibly higher if you want to be pedantic and include the chance of a machine malfunction). So we've either seen a rare event and the sun is still there or the sun is gone. Many frequentists default to the latter. – Michael McGowan Nov 9 '12 at 14:42
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Of course, using a threshold of $p < 0.05$ is ridiculous in this case, but unfortunately many frequentists don't think about other thresholds. – Michael McGowan Nov 9 '12 at 14:42
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@steffen I would contend that using "$H_0$ = Sun did explode" is not really appropriate in this case. The null hypothesis is supposed to be the default position, so unless I have an incredibly strong reason to believe otherwise, my default will be that the sun did not explode. – Michael McGowan Nov 9 '12 at 15:56

No one put up a cartoon from the cartoon guide to statistics. I like many of them from there and I used a number of them in one of my books. The one that seems to get the most laughs when I use it in a lecture is the one with the statistician going out on a first date. Their comments and thoughts about the making decisions on the menu with the statistician assessing probabilities and the woman just choosing what she likes makes it really hilarious.

enter image description here

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Is it this one, Michael? – whuber May 4 '12 at 22:06
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Yes. Thanks a lot Bill. I didn't have any idea how I could paste it in. Is uppose I could have scanned it in to a file and then tried pasting it. That would have been a lot of trouble. Is that what you did? There are a few more scenes in that one that are also pretty funny. But this gets the idea across. – Michael Chernick May 7 '12 at 21:06
    
Being familiar with this book, it was easy to look it up on the Web. I quickly found one of those versions (on a reseller page) that give you access to selected pages. This image is from such a page, so no scanning (on my part) was necessary. – whuber May 7 '12 at 21:11
    
Okay, sometimes that is possible but I think more often scanning would be necessary. – Michael Chernick May 7 '12 at 21:50

This one may be a little too real for anyone involved in academic research...

If all else fails, use "significant at the p > .05 level" and hope no one notices."

See the original here.

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I like this XKCD, but Randall Munroe's implication about the value of p = exactly .050 is incorrect. stats.stackexchange.com/questions/60825/… explains why this is the case. – user1205901 Apr 14 '15 at 13:49

From xkcd:

Almost a Chi square...

alt text

As the CoKF approaches 0, productivity goes negative as you pull OTHER people into chair-spinning contests.

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?? This seems to have nothing to do with stats. (The curve is modeled after energy potentials in physics, not after anything in stats.) – whuber May 4 '12 at 22:11

I wonder if it's OK to use %-points as an abbreviation of percentage points.

http://xkcd.com/985/

percentage points

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enter image description here

John Deering, Strange Brew

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I admit, I don't get it. – steffen Jun 30 '11 at 7:27
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I think it's that for any other type of presentation, you'd have started by telling a joke. But since mathematicians (or statisticians, here) only think and speak in terms of formulas, this was their (still lame) joke-analogue for opening a presentation. – AdamO Dec 17 '11 at 22:15
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Let epsilon be less than 0 – Dason Jan 14 '14 at 3:00

Bush and Gorbachev in a statistical golf cart My favorite was created by Emanuel Parzen, appearing in IMA preprint 663, but this illustrates my degenerate sense of humor.

Gorbachev says to Bush: "that's a very nice golfcart, Mr. President. Can it change how statistics is practiced?" etc. hahahah.

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This one is a hit :)! I've seen it a few days ago.

enter image description here

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enter image description here

Sorry it is in Dutch! Translation

  • Greetings new recruits! Welcome to the training camp for gladiators
  • Be warned! One in three of you does not survive the training
  • 33.3% ... That's not so bad
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As a pointer to why we should think about conditional probabilities (and from then on, to why tools like logistic regression are useful for predicting risk) this is an excellent cartoon. – Silverfish Dec 19 '15 at 22:39

Not exactly data analysis but I had a chuckle.

enter image description here

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From XKCD:

Though 100 years is longer than a lot of our resources.

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Not a cartoon but the best way of not being confused about type I and II errors. And very funny IMHO

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enter image description here

This one makes you think about the importance of thinking about conditional probabilities. Now I don't know what to make of the twist at the end.

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