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# Category Archives: statistical jokes

# Statistical Jokes (49): Statistics Are Dangerous

An engineer, a chemist and a statistician are working in a lab when a fire beaks out in a wastebasket. The engineer says: “We need some water to put out the fire!”, while the chemist says: “We don’t need water, we just need to cover the waste basket and prevent oxygen from getting to the fire, and it will go out.”

A heated argument between the engineer and chemist ensues over the better method of putting out the fire. Meanwhile, the statistician, having listened intently to the other two, begins running around the lab setting more fires. On realizing this, the engineer and chemist say to the statistician, “Wait! what are you doing!! You will burn the whole building down!!!”.

The statistician replies, “Look guys, if you really want to know which method works better, you are going to need a larger sample size.”

# Statistical Jokes (48): Life Imprisonment Without Parole

A prisoner had just been sentenced for a heinous crime and was returned to his cell. An inquisitive guard could not wait to ask him about the outcome.

Guard: “What did you get for a sentence?”

Prisoner: “I could choose life or 100 years.”

Guard: “And what did you choose?”

Prisoner: “Well, life, obviously. Statistically speaking that is shorter.”

More on Liwop. More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (47): The Odds Are Good But the Goods Are Odd

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Three ladies, formerly roommates at college, met monthly for lunch. This month’s topic of conversation turned to catching husbands. Sue said she was going to take advantage of the upcoming 3-day weekend to fly to Acapulco and scout the pool at Club Med. Julie said she was going to bite the bullet and sign herself up at one of those video dating services. Kate said she was flying to Chicago for the International Conference of Statisticians. Sue and Julie looked puzzled. Kate responded by telling them that 86% of statisticians were single males under the age of 37.

Sue said, “Wow! Odds are good!” Julie said, “Yeah, but the goods are odd”.

More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (46): Sampling

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More serious stuff about sampling errors here, here and here. The monte carlo method is explained here. More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (44): Correlation Doesn’t Imply Causation, Ctd.

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This is a real study apparently, not a joke at all – at least not intended as one. And the “researcher” even goes out of his way to argue that correlation in this case does imply causation:

There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries (Figure 1). When recalculated with the exclusion of Sweden, the correlation coefficient increased to 0.862. Switzerland was the top performer in terms of both the number of Nobel laureates and chocolate consumption. The slope of the regression line allows us to estimate that it would take about 0.4 kg of chocolate per capita per year to increase the number of Nobel laureates in a given country by 1. For the United States, that would amount to 125 million kg per year. The minimally effective chocolate dose seems to hover around 2 kg per year, and the dose–response curve reveals no apparent ceiling on the number of Nobel laureates at the highest chocolate-dose level of 11 kg per year. …

The principal finding of this study is a surprisingly powerful correlation between chocolate intake per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in various countries. Of course, a correlation between X and Y does not prove causation but indicates that either X influences Y, Y influences X, or X and Y are influenced by a common underlying mechanism. However, since chocolate consumption has been documented to improve cognitive function, it seems most likely that in a dose-dependent way, chocolate intake provides the abundant fertile ground needed for the sprouting of Nobel laureates. (source)

I still have a hard time believing this is for real.

More correlation-causation jokes. More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (42): Graphs and Axes

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More serious posts about what happens when you forget about or mess with the axis of a graph are here, here and here. More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (41): Pie Chart

More pie charts. More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (40): Analyst v Normal Person

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Other peculiar behavior by statisticians is described here. More statistical jokes are here.

# Statistical Jokes (38): Percentages of Percentages

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I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence, but in case you don’t immediately get the joke: is Mr. Grayton’s level of support currently 1% (20-19)? Or 16,2% (81% of 20%, a reduction of 19%)?

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (37): Significant Digits

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But please, have some sympathy for the statistician. He’s not really a nihilist and he does care about people dying. All he wants is that the nihil regains its place at the right side of estimated numbers.

# Statistical Jokes (31): Prosperity Just Around the Corner

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (30): No Way to Bias a Coin Flip

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This excerpt from a scientific paper is not a joke, but it’s funny nonetheless, at least to me:

Dice can be loaded — that is, one can easily alter a die so that the probabilities of landing on the six sides are dramatically unequal. However, it is not possible to bias a coin flip — that is, one cannot, for example, weight a coin so that it is substantially more likely to land “heads” than “tails” when flipped and caught in the hand in the usual manner. Coin tosses can be biased only if the coin is allowed to bounce or be spun rather than simply flipped in the air. …

The law of conservation of angular momentum tells us that once the coin is in the air, it spins at a nearly constant rate (slowing down very slightly due to air resistance). At any rate of spin, it spends half the time with heads facing up and half the time with heads facing down, so when it lands, the two sides are equally likely (with minor corrections due to the nonzero thickness of the edge of the coin) … Jaynes (1996) explained why weighting the coin has no effect here (unless, of course, the coin is so light that it floats like a feather): a lopsided coin spins around an axis that passes through its center of gravity, and although the axis does not go through the geometrical center of the coin, there is no difference in the way the biased and symmetric coins spin about their axes. (source)

# Statistical Jokes (29): Causation-Correlation Again

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Here’s a similar one:

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More on the causation-correlation problem here. More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (28): Learning Statistics

Learning Statistics is like taking a Mediterranean cruise.

You gain a new appreciation for the vastness of the world; you meet dozens of new characters, half of them with Greek names; and after 2 hours you feel utterly seasick.

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (27): Averages

Patient: “Will I survive this risky operation?”

Surgeon: “Yes, I’m absolutely sure that you will survive the operation.”

Patient: “How can you be so sure?”

Surgeon: “9 out of 10 patients die in this operation, and yesterday died my ninth patient.”

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (26): Control Variable

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A statistician’s wife had twins. He was delighted. He rang the minister who was also delighted.

“Bring them to church on Sunday and we’ll baptize them,” said the minister.

“No,” replied the statistician. “Baptize one. We’ll keep the other as a control.”

And a bonus joke:

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More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (25): Dangerous Neighborhood

“Why are you moving? You have arrived to this lovely neighborhood just a few weeks ago.”

“Yes, but I read in the local paper a bit of statistics that said, ‘most auto accidents happen within eight miles of your home’.”

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (24): Probability

There was this statistics student who, when driving his car, would always accelerate hard before coming to any junction, whizz straight over it , then slow down again once he’d got over it. One day, he took a passenger, who was understandably unnerved by his driving style, and asked him why he went so fast over junctions. The statistics student replied, “Well, statistically speaking, you are far more likely to have an accident at a junction, so I just make sure that I spend less time there.”

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (23): Coin Toss

A statistics major was completely hung over the day of his final exam. It was a True/False test, so he decided to flip a coin for the answers. The stats professor watched the student the entire two hours as he was flipping the coin…writing the answer…flipping the coin…writing the answer. At the end of the two hours, everyone else had left the final except for the one student. The professor walks up to his desk and interrupts the student, saying:

“Listen, I have seen that you did not study for this statistics test, you didn’t even open the exam. If you are just flipping a coin for your answer, what is taking you so long?”

The student replies bitterly, as he is still flipping the coin: “Shhh! I am checking my answers!”

More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (20): Privacy and the Internet

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More on privacy, and on the internet. More statistical jokes.

- Internet Privacy Rights – Six Guideposts For Employees (livecrunch.com)
- Schmidt’s Solution to Street View Privacy Concerns? ‘Just Move’ (searchenginewatch.com)
- White House Enters Online Privacy Fray with Privacy Subcommittee (socialtimes.com)
- Google ‘Mortified’ Over WiFi Data Gathering (informationweek.com)
- Statistical Jokes (17): The Illusion of Precision (filipspagnoli.wordpress.com)

# Statistical Jokes (18): Bye S?

On the off chance that some of those 13% are reading this blog and are unaware of the google, here are two dictionary definitions:

Something more substantial on the role of the media in a modern democracy is here. More about bias here. More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (17): The Illusion of Precision

If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants in the sky, people will probably believe you. Gabriel García Márquez

Statistics give the impression of precision. Giving people a number does indeed make a statement seem more plausible. In reality, of course, statistical numbers often serve to obfuscate or to lie. And even if they don’t we often forget that they are mere estimates and extrapolations with margins of errors, and that they are often based on very messy data collection procedures and a lot of assumptions.

More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (16): Statistics on the Skill-Luck Continuum

There’s something to this one, although I wouldn’t say statistics are merely a tiny fraction better than gambling and pure chance (but don’t ask me the size of the real fraction):

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More statistical jokes here. More serious stuff about statistics is here.

# Statistical Jokes (15): The Impressiveness of Small Things Growing a Lot

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And a similar one:

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File this under the header “objects in statistics may appear bigger than they are”. There’s a more serious discussion of this problem here and here. More statistical jokes here. More Dilbert here.

# Statistical Jokes (13): 3-D Graphs

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Never, ever, use 3-D graphs. Ever. It’s chartjunk. More serious stuff about the use and abuse of graphs is here and here. More statistical jokes here.

# Statistical Jokes (12): Birthdays Are Healthy

Again, a funny mistake rather than a joke:

“It is proven that the celebration of birthdays is healthy. Statistics show that those people who celebrate the most birthdays become the oldest”, S. den Hartog, Ph D. Thesis, Universtity of Groningen.

The reason for this error is probably an insufficient grasp of the English language. It’s a literal translation from Dutch. What he meant to say was: “Statistics show that people who celebrate their birthdays more extensively, live longer”. Probably because they are richer and therefore have higher life expectancy (and not because celebrating a birthday once a year radically improves your health – aka omitted variable bias).

More statistical jokes. More serious stuff about statistics.

# Statistical Jokes (11): Dying More Than Once

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Well, not exactly a joke, more like an unfortunate phrasing:

“The group was alarmed to find that if you are a labourer, cleaner or dock worker, you are twice as likely to die than a member of the professional classes”, from The Sunday Times, 31st August 1980.

More statistical jokes. More serious stuff about statistics. More about labor conditions and labor rights.

# Statistical Jokes (10): Sampling

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More serious discussions on the pitfalls of sampling for polls are here and here. More statistical jokes are here.

# Statistical Jokes (8): Polls Messed Up By Self-Selection

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I think point 3 in this cartoon is extremely relevant. A lot of polls, especially internet polls, are completely ruined by self-selection. I explained here why that’s a problem and what the consequences can be (for instance, political polarization and “gladiator politics“).

More statistical jokes here. More serious discussion of statistics here.

# Statistical Jokes (7): Fun With the Kuznets Curve

# Statistical Jokes (6): Most Stupidest Pie Chart, Evah

And in case you think this is just the occasional slip of the mind:

Update: yet another statistics sin by Fox:

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In case you don’t immediately notice what’s wrong here (and of course Fox News did everything to make it difficult for you to notice), here’s an annotated version:

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An honest version of the graph would look like this:

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I think it’s impossible that this is simply a mistake. I mean, how on earth could one make a mistake like this? Do they draw their graphs by hand?

And it’s not just Fox News either. Others do it too:

Bar charts are too difficult, but at least here the numbers add up.

More statistical jokes.

# Statistical Jokes (5): The Importance of Good Survey Questions

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More seriously, good survey questions are crucial, and bad questions can completely ruin a survey and mislead the users of the survey data. Read here. More statistical jokes are here.

# Statistical Jokes (4): Sample Size

A statistics professor was describing sampling theory to his class, explaining how a sample can be studied and used to generalize to a population. One of the students in the back of the room kept shaking his head.

“What’s the matter?” asked the professor. “I don’t believe it,” said the student, “why not study the whole population in the first place?” The professor continued explaining the ideas of random and representative samples. The student still shook his head. The professor launched into the mechanics of proportional stratified samples, randomized cluster sampling, the standard error of the mean, and the central limit theorem. The student remained unconvinced saying, “Too much theory, too risky, I couldn’t trust just a few numbers in place of ALL of them.”

Attempting a more practical example, the professor then explained the scientific rigor and meticulous sample selection of the Nielsen television ratings which are used to determine how multiple millions of advertising dollars are spent. The student remained unimpressed saying, “You mean that just a sample of a few thousand can tell us exactly what over 250 MILLION people are doing?”

Finally, the professor, somewhat disgruntled with the scepticism, replied, “Well, the next time you go to the campus clinic and they want to do a blood test…tell them that’s not good enough …tell them to TAKE IT ALL!!” (source)

More serious stuff on sample sizes is here. More statistical jokes are here.

# Statistical Jokes (2): Fun With Correlation, Ctd.

###### (if I understand this one correctly: “it’s not because you always see me in the neighborhood of a mess that I caused the mess”; fair enough)

More “textual” information on the correlation-causation problem is here. More statistical jokes are here.

# Statistical Jokes (1): Fun With Correlation

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink whatever you like. It’s speaking English that kills you. (source)