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This is one of my favorites:

alt text

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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  • $\begingroup$ @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. $\endgroup$ – Shane Jul 22 '10 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ @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.... $\endgroup$ – Peter Smit Jul 22 '10 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Shane Jul 22 '10 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Flimm Dec 9 '14 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Mark L. Stone Dec 19 '15 at 22:42

79 Answers 79

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Was XKCD, so time for Dilbert:

alt text

Source: http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-10-25

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    $\begingroup$ Did anyone else notice that the tour guide changes colors between the second and third frames? $\endgroup$ – assumednormal Aug 22 '12 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ On RANDU: "We guarantee that each number is random individually, but we don't guarantee that more than one of them is random." $\endgroup$ – Iain Samuel McLean Elder Mar 18 '14 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Link not working, was it this one dilbert.com/strip/2001-10-25 ? $\endgroup$ – Tim Jan 27 '15 at 19:27
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Another from XKCD: ... okay, but because you said that, we're breaking up.

Mentioned here and here.

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    $\begingroup$ You can't read this one without the alt text. it said something like "But because of that we're totally breaking up" $\endgroup$ – generic_user Mar 10 '14 at 18:16
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My favourite Dilbert cartoon:

enter image description here

Source: http://dilbert.com/strip/2008-05-07

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    $\begingroup$ Definitively my favorite cartoon about Data Mining $\endgroup$ – steffen Dec 1 '10 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ Link not working. Was it this one: dilbert.com/strip/2008-05-07 ? $\endgroup$ – Tim Jan 27 '15 at 19:27
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One more Dilbert cartoon:

http://dilbert.com/fast/2008-05-08/ ...

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    $\begingroup$ This one reminds me of the recent bailout in the States, where they just made up 700 billion number - they said they just wanted a really large number. :) $\endgroup$ – Roman Luštrik Aug 12 '10 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ Fixed. I had to add some dots after the cartoon since SE didn't allow me to submit the changes :-\ $\endgroup$ – Ching Chong Feb 5 '15 at 11:30
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One of my favorites from xckd:

Random Number

RFC 1149.5 specifies 4 as the standard IEEE-vetted random number.

RFC 1149.5 specifies 4 as the standard IEEE-vetted random number.

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    $\begingroup$ Now this is hilarious. $\endgroup$ – StatsStudent Mar 7 '16 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ But that isn't even prime! $\endgroup$ – kjetil b halvorsen Jan 25 '17 at 15:27
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Normal Versus Paranormal Distribution

From: A visual comparison of normal and paranormal distributions Matthew Freeman J Epidemiol Community Health 2006;60:6. Lower caption says 'Paranormal Distribution' - no idea why the graphical artifact is occuring.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this version of the joke works better (from oneweirdkerneltrick.com), though apparently this version was seven years earlier. $\endgroup$ – Dougal Feb 3 '15 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ this isn't really funny. it's more of a twist on english terms $\endgroup$ – user46925 Mar 7 '16 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @zero "A twist on English terms" describes a great many jokes $\endgroup$ – Fomite Mar 7 '16 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah - I think all those jokes suck. There is no underlying statistical humour. This joke should be put on the English stackexchange instead. $\endgroup$ – user46925 Mar 7 '16 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Phil: In the 2-dimensional version linked by Dougal, the "paranormal distribution" is indeed a (bizarrely truncated) distribution; so the joke has some statistical content. It doesn't work in one dimension, where your comment certainly applies. $\endgroup$ – John Bentin Jun 19 '16 at 17:47
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XKCD: significant

'So, uh, we did the green study again and got no link. It was probably a--' 'RESEARCH CONFLICTED ON GREEN JELLY BEAN/ACNE LINK; MORE STUDY RECOMMENDED!'

xkcd: significant

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    $\begingroup$ This is by far my favorite cartoon of all time. It's super educational. It really gets to the heart of the definition of a p-value. In fact, I bet that less than 10% the students who pass a college freshman "intro to stats" class get this joke, and this makes me sad. $\endgroup$ – WetlabStudent Jan 15 '14 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe so! Fortunately for freshmen, @Glen_b has offered an excellent breakdown here. $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner Feb 27 '14 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ Great! But yellow appears twice :P $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Mar 1 '16 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ this is a pretty good joke as it clearly demonstrates why repeated multiple testing is dangerous. For anyone interested check out Bonferi correction to deal with this. $\endgroup$ – user46925 Mar 7 '16 at 18:21
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I just came across this and loved it:

alt text

(http://xkcd.com/795/).

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Image at bp1.blogger.com.

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    $\begingroup$ That's great. The standard way of dealing with outliers. $\endgroup$ – Shane Jul 26 '10 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Who's the artist? $\endgroup$ – blubb Sep 25 '14 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ This cartoon was drawn by Ben Shabad $\endgroup$ – ff524 Jan 7 '16 at 20:20
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Another from xkcd #833:

And if you labeled your axes, I could tell you exactly how MUCH better.

And if you labeled your axes, I could tell you exactly how MUCH better.

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http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/extrapolating.png

By the third trimester, there will be hundreds of babies inside you.

Also from XKCD

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This isn't technically a cartoon, but close enough:

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    $\begingroup$ That's definitely my favorite. I always have to stop on this and laugh when scrolling over this page. It's just so bad!! $\endgroup$ – Henrik Sep 9 '10 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ +1 'Natch, Randal Munroe has a sweet variation on this. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Sep 24 at 15:29
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this too: alt text

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    $\begingroup$ To be honest, those are the bad physicists. The good physicists stick around and make a name for themselves. $\endgroup$ – Iterator Aug 6 '11 at 3:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yet it's amazing how often it works... $\endgroup$ – wnoise Sep 22 '11 at 4:44
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    $\begingroup$ This cartoon...speaks to me. $\endgroup$ – Fomite Sep 29 '12 at 23:38
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There is this one on Bayesian learning:

alt text

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    $\begingroup$ What's the source? $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 31 '10 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ It was taken from Mike West's website: stat.duke.edu/~mw/fineart.html $\endgroup$ – ebony1 Aug 31 '10 at 16:23
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Nice. The importance of variance when thinking about a population.

enter image description here

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

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    $\begingroup$ This has to be my favorite. $\endgroup$ – Pseudo_Scientist Aug 22 '14 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ This cartoon makes me sad. $\endgroup$ – Flimm Dec 9 '14 at 10:40
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And another one from xkcd.

Title: Self-Description

alt text

The mouseover text:

The contents of any one panel are dependent on the contents of every panel including itself. The graph of panel dependencies is complete and bidirectional, and each node has a loop. The mouseover text has two hundred and forty-two characters.

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Here is a nice one (the inadequacy about average ratings)
http://xkcd.com/937/

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  • $\begingroup$ Kinda disappointed that Munroe did not work "selection bias" into the text. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Sep 24 at 15:32
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Another one from xkcd:

Hell, my eighth grade science class managed to conclusively reject it just based on a classroom experiment. It's pretty sad to hear about million-dollar research teams who can't even manage that.

Alt-text:

Hell, my eighth grade science class managed to conclusively reject it just based on a classroom experiment. It's pretty sad to hear about million-dollar research teams who can't even manage that.

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    $\begingroup$ this one is just great :-) $\endgroup$ – Curious May 12 '12 at 10:39
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Here's another one from Dilbert:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Looks like this one needs an updated image. $\endgroup$ – Nick Orlando Feb 24 '15 at 20:45
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More about design and power than analysis, but I like this one

alt text

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I liked this one:

enter image description here

This is probably fun to show in class as well...

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I found this from a NoSQL presentation, but the cartoon can be found directly at

http://browsertoolkit.com/fault-tolerance.png

alt text

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    $\begingroup$ Can you please explain this cartoon? $\endgroup$ – Christian Sep 3 '14 at 0:00
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A classic...

Never discuss multiple testing without it

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  • $\begingroup$ "Because medical research findings can be difficult to reconcile, are not always pre-digested, and can seem overwhelming to us casual observers, let us make fun of those who dedicate their lives to obtaining them." $\endgroup$ – rolando2 Feb 9 '14 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ @rolando2 As a medical researcher, I find the sensationalist incompetence of mainstream science reporters hilarious. $\endgroup$ – Superbest Feb 26 '14 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ There's a listserv from HealthNewsReview devoted to evaluating media handling of health research findings. $\endgroup$ – rolando2 Mar 9 '15 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ As a statistician, I find the sensationalist incompetence of mainstream "data analysts" hilarious. $\endgroup$ – StatsStudent Mar 7 '16 at 21:35
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Source: unknown. Posted on flowingdata.com.

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  • $\begingroup$ There could be a secondary y-axis labeled "Ballerina chicken with cloaca". $\endgroup$ – Waldir Leoncio Jan 31 at 9:38
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enter image description here

Found this one in the comments on Andrew Gelman's blog.

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  • $\begingroup$ This chart is wrong, correct percentage is about fifty-fifty. $\endgroup$ – juliohm Mar 10 '14 at 16:09
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enter image description here

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

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    $\begingroup$ yeah but.... this one isn't true... it mostly depends on how you parameterize the time variable $t$... i guess if you go back far enough, but come on... $\endgroup$ – William Sep 22 '11 at 17:24
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Allright, I think this one is hilarious- but let's see if it passes the Statistical Analysis Miller test.

Fermirotica

I love how Google handles dimensional analysis.  Stats are ballpark and vary wildly by time of day and whether your mom is in town.

I love how Google handles dimensional analysis. Stats are ballpark and vary wildly by time of day and whether your mom is in town.

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    $\begingroup$ Statistical voyeurism? And there we were wondering what to call the site... $\endgroup$ – walkytalky Jul 23 '10 at 15:48
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From xkcd:

enter image description here This is data analysis in the form of a cartoon, and I find it particularly poignant.

The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very funny! (____) $\endgroup$ – Tal Galili Aug 5 '11 at 19:51
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Another one from xkcd:

Coconuts are so far down to the left they couldn't be fit on the chart.  Ever spent half an hour trying to open a coconut with a rock?  Down with coconuts.

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    $\begingroup$ Bananas are always tasty. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Type Dec 1 '10 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ @AnonymousType and easy! $\endgroup$ – tdc Feb 23 '12 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Where are persimmons? $\endgroup$ – EngrStudent - Reinstate Monica May 18 '13 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ @EngrStudent: they're simultaneously off both ends of the tasty scale. $\endgroup$ – naught101 Aug 21 '13 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ I'm surprised Durian isn't on here... $\endgroup$ – Frank H. Oct 20 '15 at 17:41

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