Data Science Quotes

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Quotations are often used to assert the claims and support credibility of a person's views on a topic. Quotes are very popular in newspaper columns and presentations to clarify or reinforce the summary or main points and augment the arguments. I am also a big fan of quotes and have used them in every chapter of my Masters Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation. Ever since DataMarket and even Linkedin came up with their quotes, I planned to publish some of my favorites that were missing from those two lists. So, here it comes. Because of my background in machine learning and data mining, the list could be biased and tilted in that direction.

Science these days has basically turned into a data ­management problem.

Jimmy Lin, Associate Professor, University of Maryland

The purpose of models is not to fit the data but to sharpen the questions.

Samuel Karlin, 11th R A Fisher Memorial Lecture (1983)

Although we often hear that data speak for themselves, their voices can be soft and sly.

F. Mosteller, S. Fienberg, R. Rourke from Beginning Statistics with Data Analysis

Data does not equal information; information does not equal knowledge; and, most importantly of all, knowledge does not equal wisdom. We have oceans of data, rivers of information, small puddles of knowledge, and the odd drop of wisdom.

Henry Nix, Keynote address, AURISA, 1990

With too little data, you won’t be able to make any conclusions that you trust. With loads of data you will find relationships that aren’t real... Big data isn’t about bits, it’s about talent.

Douglas Merrill, Former CIO and VP of Engineering at Google

All models are wrong, but some are useful.

George E. P. Box, Empirical model­ building and response surfaces (1987), Wiley, p. 424

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 W. Tukey, The future of data analysis. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 1962, 33:1­67 (see pp.13­14)

Statisticians, like artists, have the bad habit of falling in love with their models.

­­ George Box

The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data.

John Tukey, Sunset salvo. The American Statistician 40 (1)

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

Niels Bohr

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary a qualification for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.

H.G. Wells

If you torture the data enough, nature will always confess.

Ronald Coase, How should economists chose? American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D. C. (1982)

Conducting data analysis is like drinking a fine wine. It is important to swirl and sniff the wine, to unpack the complex bouquet and to appreciate the experience. Gulping the wine doesn’t work.

Daniel B. Wright (2003)


We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge.

Rutherford D. Roger

Data do not speak for themselves ­ they need context, and they need skeptical evaluation

Allen Wilcox

Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it well, the Samurai.

Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s Senior Vice President for Product Management

With three constants, I can fit a dog. With four, I can make it bark.

William Reifsnyder

All information looks like noise until you break the code.

Neal Stephenson, Hiro in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash (1992)

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.

Arthur Conan Doyle

There are two things you are better off not watching in the making: sausages and econometric estimates.

Edward Leamer, 1983 "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31­43,


Data analysis is simply a dialogue with the data

­­Stephen F. Gull, 1994

Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil.

David McCandless

About Prem

Prem Raj is a Data Scientist by trade and training, and a Post Doctoral Researcher at the University of Turku, Finland. He designs and develops algorithms, tools, and methods to make sense of vast amount of data.