Quotes

What is simple is always wrong.  What is not is useless.
Paul Valéry (1871-1945), Bad Thoughts and Others, 1942.

I like work; it fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours.
Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), Three Men in a Boat, 1889.

The purpose of models is not to fit the data but to sharpen the questions.
Samuel Karlin (1923-2007), 11th R A Fisher Memorial Lecture, Royal Society 20, April 1983.

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.
George E. P. Box (1919- ), Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces, 1987, co-authored with Norman R. Draper, p. 424.

Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” (paraphrased)
Niels Bohr (1885-1962), [?]

Technical skill is mastery of complexity while creativity is mastery of simplicity.
E Christopher Zeeman (1925- ), Catastrophe Theory, 1977.

A theory has only the alternative of being right or wrong. A model has a third possibility: it may be right, but irrelevant.
Manfred Eigen (1927- ), The Physicist’s Conception of Nature, 1973.

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.
Sir Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962), Presidential Address to the First Indian Statistical Congress, 1938. Sankhya 4, 14-17.

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 (1915-2000), Sunset salvo. The American Statistician 40 (1).

“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 (1915-2000), The future of data analysis. (1962) Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33 (1): 13.

Any confusion between the ideas suggested by science and science itself must be carefully avoided.”
Jacques Monod (1910-1976), Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology, 1972.

No model can be general, precise, and realistic.
Puccia, C.J. & Richard Levins (1930- ), Qualitative Modeling of Complex Systems, 1985.

Seek simplicity and distrust it.”
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), The Concept of Nature, 1926.