A politician uses statistics like a drunk uses a lamppost. For support – not illumination.

Facts are stubborn but statistics are more pliable.

There are 2 kinds of statistics- the kind you look up & the kind you make up.


Abstract for Statistical Humor: An Oxymoron?

Warning: This presentation contains no statistical theorems, proofs, or examples of innovative statistical procedures. Saul Bellow wrote in Herzog, “An utterly steady, reliable woman, responsible to the point of grimness, Daisy was a statistician for the Gallup Poll.” Does Bellow’s stereotype of statisticians ring true? Is the field without jokes, cartoons, statistical heroes or tales about statistics saving the day? Keeping undergraduate biology students and medical residents interested in statistics when the majority of the students are taking the class as a requirement can be challenging. I will present examples of jokes, stories, cartoons, poems, and one-liners about statistics, statisticians and teaching that I use in my classes to lighten the mood. I will pose Jeopardy style questions to the audience challenging them to identify quotes on the subject of statistics from famous people both real and fictional. Participants will learn why there is no Noble Prize for Mathematics and Statistics, discover who was the most evil mathematician of all time, and hear about the short story where a man uses his extraordinary knowledge of statistics to charm a woman into marriage. (The Handbook of Hymen by O. Henry)