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The night watchman, who damn well puts down what he pleases
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There's a quote about statistics, and how statisticians love to take them and multiply them and take the nth root, but they all come from the night watchman, who puts down whatever he damn well pleases.

Can anybody help me identify that?
 
Posts: 19 | Registered: 12-04-00Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Paul Dickson, in The Official Rules, Delacorte Press, 1978, gives this:
Stamp's Statistical Probability The government [is] extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics. These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases.
(Attributed to Sir Josiah Stamp, 1840-1941, H.M. collector of inland revenue. From rules collected by Donald Rumsfeld.)

Mr. Dickson, unfortunately, provides no further information about Mr. Rumsfeld or his collection of rules. It seems fairly probable, but by no means certain, that this is the same Donald Rumsfeld who has twice been US Secretary of Defense; however, a WSJ article on "Rumsfeld's Rules" http://www.opinionjournal.com/wsj/?id=85000505
does not include this one.

This quotation is included, however (albeit in a slightly different form) in the Wikipedia article on Josiah Stamp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josiah_Stamp,_1st_Baron_Stamp
The article also doesn't provide information about when and where he said it, and indicates that HE attributed it to a judge.

[This message was edited by kmccary on 06-21-07 at 08:01 AM.]
 
Posts: 157 | Registered: 02-08-07Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks!
 
Posts: 19 | Registered: 12-04-00Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The source is a long passage from a 1929 book; see the recently published The Yale Book of Quotations for the full details.
 
Posts: 53 | Location: New Haven, CT | Registered: 01-03-03Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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