More Themes 4

  • Socrates thought people were more important than ideas … he though ideas existed for the benefit of people, not the other way around. An intellectual is someone who thinks ideas are more important than people. – Paul Johnson, British historian (1928 – ) quoted in WSJ 5 March, 2011
  • They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
  • Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart and considerably more successful. – Bret Stephens, WSJ, 9 Aug. 2011
  • “If you think that statistics has nothing to say about what you do or how you could do it better, then you are either wrong or in need of a more interesting job.” – Stephen Senn (Dicing with Death: Chance, Risk and Health, Cambridge University Press, 2003)
  • “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K. Dick
  • No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no “try.” – Jedi Master Yoda
  • Opportunity doesn’t knock. It whispers.
  • Occam’s razor, “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate” (“Plurality should not be posited without necessity”), is the law of economy or law of parsimony. More colloquially, “Don’t use a more complicated explanation when a simpler one will do the job.” – William of Occam (1285–1347/49)
  • Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken
  • “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
    – Woodrow Wilson
  • It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.
    – Voltaire
  • “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
    – Sherlock Holmes, “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • “Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.”
    – John Tukey
  • “To consult the statistician after an experiment is finished is often merely to ask him to conduct a post mortem examination. He can perhaps say what the experiment died of.”
    – R.A. Fisher, 1938
  • Planning a statistical analysis after you’ve collected the data is like developing plans for a structure after you’ve purchased the materials.
  • “If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.” – Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988)
  • “It is easy to lie with statistics, but easier to lie without them.” – Fred Mosteller (1916 – 2006) Founding chairman of Harvard’s statistics department.
  • “If you are not confused then you are not paying attention” — Tom Peters
  • The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)
  • The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. – Bertrand Russell