John Tukey

American mathematician (1915-2000)

John Tukey (16 June 191526 July 2000) was an American statistician.


  • 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.
    • The future of data analysis. Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33 (1), (1962), page 13.
    • Variant: "An approximate answer to the right question is worth a great deal more than a precise answer to the wrong question." "as the renowned statistician John Tukey once reportedly said," according to Super Freakonomics page 224.
  • 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.
  • The tool that is so dull that you cannot cut yourself on it is not likely to be sharp enough to be either useful or helpful.

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