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

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    $\begingroup$ I made this community wiki as there is no correct answer. $\endgroup$ – Rob Hyndman Aug 6 '10 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ It probably makes sense to leave cartoons in this question: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/423/… $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim Aug 8 '10 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jan 24 '12 at 15:34

76 Answers 76

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Statisticians get paid to make errors.

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

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    $\begingroup$ Very funny! (more characters) $\endgroup$ – Tal Galili Jun 23 '11 at 12:08
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Bayesian: I am your father.

Fiducialist: Noooooooooo!

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Taken from xkcd.com: Cell Phones

enter image description here for 30 chars

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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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  • $\begingroup$ minus five minus seven? so minus twelve? that doesn't make sense $\endgroup$ – Neil McGuigan Aug 6 '10 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Five to seven -- I'll try to convert it to en-dash. $\endgroup$ – user88 Aug 6 '10 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ That made me laugh, my god! $\endgroup$ – Tal Galili Aug 6 '10 at 18:31
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The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was invented by Kolmogorov, the great Russian mathematician, and Smirnoff, the inventor of vodka.

It was originally intended as a test of linearity, but they had too much of Smirnoff's vodka, could not draw a straight line, so it ended up as a test of curves.

Smirnoff also wrote his name so badly the publisher typeset it as "Smirnov".

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    $\begingroup$ I will wear the negative vote as a badge of honor, similar to co-workers groaning after a pun. But a side note about the spelling of Smirnoff is that the vodka brand was owned by the Smirnov family: "Businessman Rudolph P. Kunett secured the rights to the (now Westernized) Smirnoff brand from Pyotr Smirnov’s son Vladimir, who managed to escape the Bolsheviks and was living in France." weeklystandard.com/articles/vodka-nation_582069.html?nopager=1 $\endgroup$ – zbicyclist Aug 11 '11 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ As a Russian, I think it is an OK joke, I don't see why people get so pissed off about it. Smirnov (whichever way you want to spell it) is a very common last name (according to ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, THE most common last name), so in a way it was unavoidable that there'd be a statistician by that name and a vodka producer by that name. $\endgroup$ – StasK Nov 2 '11 at 2:32
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There are two types of economists:

  • those who don't know how to forecast interest rates
  • and those who think they know how to forecast interest rates
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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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    $\begingroup$ This one is much older than xkcd, LOL! Did you read J.M.'s contribution (August 9)? Same joke, different animal. $\endgroup$ – whuber Oct 13 '10 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ stats.stackexchange.com/questions/1337/statistics-jokes/… $\endgroup$ – user88 Oct 13 '10 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ I just noted that I got it via xkcd forum. I didn't mean this is its origin. Thank you for pointing out the deer hunting skit. Also funny. :) $\endgroup$ – Roman Luštrik Oct 14 '10 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ Shooting too far to the left, after that too far to the right: Dead on average! ;-) $\endgroup$ – vonjd Jun 27 '13 at 12:49
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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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What is the difference between an extroverted and an introverted statistician?

The extroverted statistican looks at your shoes while talking to you.

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    $\begingroup$ Not really anything to do with stats... pick any 'nerdy' profession, and it fits... $\endgroup$ – naught101 Nov 8 '12 at 2:46
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“If your head is in the freezer and your feet are in the oven, on average you’re comfortable.”

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  • $\begingroup$ But... what if your torso is immersed in lava? $\endgroup$ – BalinKingOfMoria Jul 18 '18 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ This fails any pedantry test as about a bit below 0 $^\circ$C and about 200 $^\circ$C don't average to a comfortable temperature (same statement with different numbers for any other temperature scale). $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 1 '18 at 18:24
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there was the one about the two statisticians who tried to use grant money to pay for their bill at a strip club. They were vindicated when it was explained they were performing a 'posterior analysis'. (groan)

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A few funniest jokes on statistics:

1) Professor: "You have only 15 minutes to plot the bi-variate distribution between A and B, 15 minutes to compute correlation and 5 seconds to compute the kurtosis of B."

Students: "Only 5 seconds???"

Professor: "Don't worry, it takes only a moment!" ;D

2) Have you ever thought, In China, if you are the one out of million kind of guys, there are still thousands like you!!

3) Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital!

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  • $\begingroup$ Mmmm, calculating the kurtosis "takes two moments", the second and the fourth central moments. $\endgroup$ – user10525 Jan 3 '13 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ It only takes an additional moment after the correlation. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 27 '13 at 12:59
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Don't hate the plyr! Hate the game!

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I like this one:

How did theta dress up for halloween?

-- He put a hat on

There are more quite funny Halloween statistical jokes in here:

Why didn't null hypothesis win the costume contest?

-- He got rejected.

or

Why didn't the statistician ask for pieces of candy from the standard normal distribution?

-- He expected 0

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This question on "p-hacking" made me recall this joke:

Three statisticians are interviewing for a job. The interviewer asks each person individually the following question: "What is 1 + 1?".

The first person quickly answers, "2 of course!" The interviewer thanks them for their time and dismisses them.

The second person gets a thoughtful look on their face. Then they pull out some paper and a calculator. After a little while they've filled up numerous sheets of paper with complicated calculations. After reviewing their notes they confidently respond, "the square root of 1i." Once again the interviewer thanks them for their time and dismisses them.

The third person responds with a twinkle in their eye "what do you want it to be?" To which the interviewer responds, "you're hired!"

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There is no "favorite statistical haiku", so let me post it under "jokes":

Little p-value
What are you trying to say
Of significance?

-- Stephen Ziliak, Roosevelt University economics professor (quoted here)

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The statistician wonders if they analyse things too much... Or maybe not enough..?

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Okay, I admit there is a flaw in this one, but it comforts me nonetheless:

"I used to get angry when someone driving in front of me did something really stupid (or uncourteous) on the road, but then I found comfort in realizing that about half the people on the road are of below average intelligence..."

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    $\begingroup$ True, if average means median, but otherwise (not so) wrong. $\endgroup$ – hans-t Nov 16 '16 at 7:47
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At the front side of the famous statistician's office:

$$ \mathfrak{ \text{"Let's make the crowd a population" }\\ \text{Thus spoke the Lord and created the statistician.}} $$

At the front side of the pharmacy near the statistics department:

$ \qquad \qquad \small \mathcal {\text{Take poisson only on very rare events!}}$

And in the window:
$ \qquad \qquad \small \mathcal {\text{Eating average dose of vitamins makes you a robust estimator!"}} $

This one has some double or threefold logic and might be a bit too complicated but I love it especially:

$ \qquad \qquad \mathcal {\text{Statistics without hypotheses }\\ \qquad \qquad \text{is like walking in the jungle} \\ \qquad \qquad \text{without map"}}$

(Well, sounds like a good advice - but really: what does help you a map in the jungle, where you've no wide sight and required horizon to relate the map to your position...)

These all came from a collection of jokes invented after a nice party..


Here are some more "pearls of wisdom".

With a bit of political flair:

$ \qquad \qquad $ "The metric of black and white is not ordinal but only nominal"
$ \qquad \qquad $$ \qquad \qquad $ (perhaps a bit of too serious matter to serve as a joke...)

$ \qquad \qquad $ "Without a bit of deviation poor Government had to divide us by zero"

$ \qquad \qquad \qquad $ or even this small one which takes stance
$ \qquad \qquad \qquad $ against tendency of conformism, just stating the obvious

$ \qquad \qquad $ "A bit of variance cannot be negative!"

An advice which the teacher could give any freshman in statistics:

$ \qquad \qquad $ If you can't inference -reference!

Only small playing with words of factoranalysis:

$ \qquad \qquad \mathcal {\text{If you don't like that data have some error,} \\ \qquad \qquad \text{why not rotate him into the article?}}$

and a final one:

$ \qquad \qquad \mathcal { \text{Two independent thoughts in mind.} \\ \qquad \qquad \text{Enough to call me 'simple structured'...}}$

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Statistics Movies that Never Made it to the Big Screen

There is a nice list here:

http://www.tealdragon.net/humor/lists/statmves.htm

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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xkcd #1337

Hover-text: If data fails the Teacher's t test, you can just force it to take the test again until it passes.

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Supposedly true story: scared of flying, this guy always flew with a green pineapple in his bag. When asked why, he replied:

Guy: "Have you ever heard of a plane crash in which there was a green pineapple in a passenger's bag?".

Friend: "Nope."

Guy: "See? Zero percent probability!"

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Q. Lawyers and doctors have specific ethical obligations that others don’t have. Some financial/investment roles have a fiduciary responsibility that goes beyond merely not stealing the money, but includes the notion of stewardship.

Does a statistician have a duty to “stop and render aid” if she sees a statistical casualty?

A: Yes, but only 5% of the time.

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"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Possibly by Mark Twain (Source)

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  • $\begingroup$ Classic! My dad loves to quote this one. $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner Feb 21 '14 at 3:05
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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."

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Statisticians do not wait for moments, they generate them.

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How many biostatisticians does it take to change a light bulb?

a) None, having the biostatistician's name on the protocol is enough.
b) Only one, they're used to boring work.
c) Two, you have to plan for subject dropout in any trial.
d) Three, the probability of a biostatistician boring someone else to sleep is $2/3$.
e) $1.5$, the unweighted mean of the four possibilities above.
f) It depends on the purpose for changing it and the design of the bulb.

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enter image description here

Mean & median meme about outlier resistance:

Source: https://twitter.com/annaegalite/status/1166446645204213760

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This is a very nerdy joke, that needs certain kind of Bayesian to appreciate:

enter image description here

Source: https://twitter.com/stuartjritchie/status/1057709557772894209

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  • $\begingroup$ Is it really that 'nerdy'?! $\endgroup$ – naive Nov 15 '18 at 13:30

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