What is the funniest statistics-related joke that you know?
April 21, 2016 1:42 AM   Subscribe

Please tell me the funniest statistics-related joke or jokes that you know. I give talks and run workshops about statistical concepts - broadly defined - to mixed audiences. Jokes will be used as ice-breakers. The ideal joke will be funny to everybody, and doubly funny to statisticians.

I am looking to build up a collection of statistics-related jokes, puns and one-liners. These will be used to break the ice at statistics-related events where the audience are a mixture of statisticians from theoreticians to applied types, those with an interest in statistics, and those with little to no knowledge or experience of statistics. In general the application is biostatistics, so jokes referencing genetics, epidemiology, multiple testing, or difficulties in communicating statistical concepts could all be appropriate.

Cartoons and visual gags are good, but jokes that can be told out loud to a roomful of people are better.

So far I have numerous cartoons and the following two jokes: For a bonus point, tips for delivery are also appreciated. I am not a natural stand-up comedian and despite having made considerable progress I still hate giving talks.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus to Science & Nature (25 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who can extrapolate from incomplete data,
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:56 AM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

This is kind of off color, but a PhD chemist once told me:

The average human would have one breast, one testicle and a three inch weiner.
posted by Michele in California at 2:21 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is more of a visual gag, but one that always makes me smile.
posted by stillmoving at 2:38 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

Not a joke precisely, but there's an entire tumblr full of biostatistics versions of that "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling meme. I showed a few of them in my Intro to Statistics class and my students groaned appreciatively.
posted by forza at 3:01 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are many, many pie chart jokes. Some are better than others. I like the Japan one.
posted by pipeski at 3:14 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

A statistician can have his head in an oven and his feet in ice, and he will say that on the average he feels fine.

posted by Gordafarin at 3:37 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

A professor used the term "close enough for all practical purposes" in a lecture, and a student challenged him to define the term. His respose was:

We take all the men in the class and line them up on one side of the room, and put all the women on the opposite side. Then every time the teacher blows a whistle, both lines halve their distance to the center. Of course, they'll never exactly reach it, but it won't take long for them to get close enough for all practical purposes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:42 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Doctor: Your results came back. It's Type I diabetes.
Statistician: That’s a relief. I thought I had diabetes.
posted by martinrebas at 3:54 AM on April 21, 2016 [26 favorites]

This XKCD is a classic (if it's not already among the cartoons you have) and mostly a verbal gag.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:31 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

I just love the "Percentage of Chart Which Resembles Pac-Man," pie graph (I know that it isn't 100% statistics), but I am so happy to have an excuse to share it.
posted by jazh at 5:22 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Old statisticians never die; they are simply seasonally adjusted.
Old statisticians never die; they just get broken down by age and sex.
posted by Panthalassa at 5:45 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm just sayin', everyone that confuses correlation with causation eventually ends up dead.
posted by russm at 5:52 AM on April 21, 2016 [13 favorites]

A boss is interviewing three people for a position. Each candidate is brought into the boss' office one by one, and asked a single question: what is 2 + 2?

The first candidate, a mathematician, comes in and immediately answers, "obviously the answer is 4."

The second candidate, an engineer is also asked for the answer to 2 + 2. "It's difficult to say for sure," he says. "I'll need to make a few calculations and draw up some graphs. I can get back to you in a week or so."

The final candidate, a statistician, comes in, and is asked the question. The statistician stands, then deliberately and quickly closes all the blinds in the room, shuts the door, and unplugs the phone line.

He sits down and with a sly smile replies, "What do you want it to be?"
posted by sephira at 5:56 AM on April 21, 2016 [16 favorites]

Three statisticians went duck hunting. A duck flew out and the first statistician took a shot, the shot went a foot too hight. The second statistician took his shot and the shot went a foot too low. The third statistician said, "We got it!"
posted by Caravantea at 6:13 AM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

On the perils of modeling: "Oh, if only it were so simple."
posted by drdanger at 6:58 AM on April 21, 2016

My new boss immediately printed this out for me the day he began his new position. I found it amusing.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a few goodies as well, even if the punchlines are a bit...you know...OMG PROBABILITY?!
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:05 AM on April 21, 2016

I am very fond of this one from xkcd (it's different from the other listed above)
posted by bilabial at 8:08 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

There was a statistician who drowned wading across a river that was an average of knee deep.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not happy.
posted by mightshould at 12:14 PM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

In America, 40% of sick days are taken on either a Monday or a Friday. Stupid lazy Americans!

(assuming a 5 day work week, each day is 20%, thus the frequency of sick days taken is statistically normal and indeed, there is no preference for taking a sick day on a Monday or a Friday)
posted by porpoise at 12:54 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

On a meta level, p < 0.05 as having some intrinsic significance.
posted by porpoise at 12:55 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang
posted by Blasdelb at 3:33 PM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

For the Bayesians out there.
posted by just_ducky at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2016

"Education in this country is a travesty! Did you know that 50% of our students read below the medan level?"
posted by schrodycat at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2016

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