Statistics Jokes

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

• I made this community wiki as there is no correct answer. Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 2:44
• It probably makes sense to leave cartoons in this question: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/423/… Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 11:49
• 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
Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 15:34

80 Answers

I forget where it's from, but there's the one that when asked how he felt on reaching his 90th birthday, the old statistician replied, "I'm very happy about it - the numbers show that few people die after their 90th birthday."

April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month.

It's OK that I posted this in May, because there's a margin of error of +/- 1 month.

Statisticians do not wait for moments, they generate them.

Any statistician reporting a p-value greater than 1 has a 110% probability of getting fired.

• Sadder joke: any statistician reporting a p-value greater than 0.05 has a 90% probability of getting fired. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 15:57

What kind of rash do statisticians get?
-- Poisson Ivy

Cauchy and Poisson crossed paths on the vibrant streets of Paris. Cauchy pondered, "Navigating life with no expectations surely poses a challenge." Poisson smirked, replying, "Yet leading a life where your every fluctuation aligns with self-made expectations sounds rather monotonous, doesn't it?"

We can define two Murphy's laws for statistics and data science:

Murphy's law of small numbers: if the sample is small, so it can be unrepresentative, it will, inevitably leading you to incorrect conclusions.

Murphy's law of large numbers: if the sample is big, there usually will be big problems with the data (e.g. strange format, wrong encoding of the variables, it would lack the key features needed for understanding it, it will have huge number of duplicates, data would be binned in a stupid way etc.).

I'm always learning about new distributions.

I noticed one of the jokes Peter Donnelly had in his TED talks was selected but I felt another was better, which he says came from a senior colleague.

Statisticians are people who like figures but don't have the personality skills to become accountants.

PREAMBLE:It may help those who are unaware of what "epidemiologists" do to know that they are researchers who collect data about people and diseases and try to find patterns. This involves lots of data collection and statistical analysis usually. A simple (and early) example of what an epidemiologist does would be the first study to show that those who smoked were more likely to develope lung cancer etc.

NOW FOR THE JOKE..... There is a group of five statisticians on a train. At the next stop, five epidemiologists get on. They all seem to know each other and start chatting. It transpires that all the epidemiologists have bought a ticket, but the statisticians have only bought one between the five of them. "Why did you do that?" asks one of the epidemiologists. "Surely you're going to get caught and thrown off the train?" "Just wait and see!", smiles one of the statisticians.

As the ticket inspector is approaching to check everyone's tickets, the statisticians all go off to the nearest toilet - the inspector passes the epidemiologists and inspects all their tickets then moves on and notices that the toilet is locked. "Tickets please!", shouts the inspector. One of the statisticians pushes their ticket under the toilet door, which the inspector checks and returns under the door. Once the inspector has gone, all the statisticians return to their seats to the awe and amazement of the epidemiologists. "That's incredibly clever!" says one of the epidemiologists.

A few weeks later they all find themselves on the same train again. They sit together and start chatting once more. "We've done what you suggested", says one of the epidemiologists. "And just bought one ticket between the five of us!" "Oh really", says one of the statisticians. "we haven't bought ANY tickets this time!" The epidemiologists look at each other in amazement. "OK, one ticket between you is fine but not buying any at all is ludicrous!"

As the ticket inspector approaches the epidemiologists hurry off to the toilet. Once they're inside, the statisticians follow them. "Tickets please!" shouts one of the statisticians. The ticket appears under the door and they take it away and all bundle into a different toilet. The inspector gets to the toilet with the epidemiologists in it. "Tickets please!" he shouts. No reply. "Tickets please!" The epidemiologists admit defeat and come out of the toilet only to be thrown off the train at the next station.

THE MORAL OF THIS STORY: Epidemiologists should not attempt to use statistical methods without fully understanding the theory behind them!

• A different perspective is that one could argue the moral of the story is that epidemiologists should not trust the methods that statisticians recommend. The statisticians here kind of seem like jerks... Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 21:03

A: I think we must be in a simulated reality. If we are in a simulated reality then there will be more simulated realities than real ones. B: That is not correct. A: Why? B: You are making an argument, most arguments are wrong, therefore yours is wrong. A: That is stupid B: Probabilistically, yes.

Did you know you have more limbs than the average person?

Since almost all numbers are normal:

Are statisticians normal?

... think about it.. ;-)

This is a variation of a previous joke. If you think about it, I think it's slightly funnier than the other version, for subtle reasons that will occur to you as you ponder it.

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

A) 25%

B) 50%

C) 0%

D) 25%

• This is a dupe, it's able. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 1:30

In average people do have 9.99 fingers.

One of my favourite quotes: "Statistics analyses convergence of sequences of random variables."

• Was this supposed to be an answer to our Famous statistician quotes thread? Is it supposed to be a joke? Can you cite the source? Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 17:35
• Some people find it funny, as far as dry humour goes, e.g. @whuber. As for the source, I first heard it from a statistics PHD student, so probably not famous. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 17:41
• I'm not sure why you pinged me on this, but I do see the humor in it.
– whuber
Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 20:38
• Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
• Statistician: Nop! That's a 'random experiment'!

BTW: it seems like Einstein didn't really say that, but it's still funny, at least for me, hehe!

• Relevant: xkcd.com/1657 Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 23:17

A man and a woman asked, what is the probability that he/she went out into the street, meet a dinosaur.

Man begins to count and, finally, gives his version: "Taking into account all the possible factors - zero point three trillion.

She also meets once: "Fifty-fifty. "Why?" - Say it. "It's very simple: either meeting or not meeting."

• Why all the downvotes on this one? Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 15:46

Two statisticians went duck hunting. A duck flew overhead and one statistician fired just to the right of the bird. The other statistician fired just to the left of the bird. They turned to each other in glee, and congratulated each other... "On average, he's dead!", they cried! The duck continued his migration.