Quadratic surfaces

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The International Year of Statistics

Recent Talks
Norman Bethune CI -- July 23, 2012
    (Slides only -- I will add a short video on the 3D data within a few weeks)

At York

Summer Programme in Data Analysis
York's directory
York's home page
Math & Stat: External / Internal

York Senate
Statistical Consulting Service
Institute for Social Research
York Library

Courses and

Mathematics 6627 Practicum in Statistical Consulting
Summer 2012: Mathematics 6643 Applications of Mixed Models
SCS Short Course: Statistical Analysis and Programming with R
SPIDA 2012: Mixed Models with R

Courses and


Seminar on Ellipses (January 2011)
Mathematics 6643 Mixed Models -
SCS Workshop: R Graphics (March 14, 2008)
Newtonbrook Secondary School (Nov. 29, 2007)
ISOMA Conference (Nov. 22, 2007)
SORA/TABA Workshop on Longitudinal Data Analysis (May 10, 2007)

Mathematics 1532 Statistics for Business and Society

Mathematics 6630 Applied Statistics I
Psychology 6140: Multivariate methods
SCS Workshop: Longitudinal and Hierarchical Data Analysis with Mixed Models
Mathematics 2565 Applied Statistics


Statistics Section
Pay Equity

Governance Committee Report


PIMS On-Line magazines 
Michael Friendly's Statistical Resources
Statistical Society of Canada
American Statistical Association
Fields Institute
Searching Statistics Newsgroups

Other links
Mail archives
UCLA Statistics
Current Index to Statistics
Careers in Statistics


Graduate Program

Undergraduate Programs

Georges Monette's Home Page

Phone: 416-736-2100 ext. 77164
Fax: 416-736-5757
e-mail: Georges.Monette@mathstat.yorku.ca Office: North 626 Ross Building

Office Hours:

  • For statistical consulting, you can book an appointment through the Statistical Consulting Service AppointmentQuest. 
  • Regular academic office hours to be announced. To make an appointment concerning a course, send e-mail to Georges.Monette@mathstat.yorku.ca, 736-2100, ext. 77164

Recent activities

What plot do you (almost) see twice in each rotation?

See an answer at the bottom of this page.



“The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone's backyard.” – John W. Tukey, who, incidentally, coined the terms 'software' and 'bit'.

“Once you know hierarchies exist, you see them everywhere” – Ita Kreft and Jan de Leeuw (1998) ”Introducing Multilevel Modeling”

“Once you tune into ellipses, you will begin to see them everywhere ...” – James McMullan

“The best thing about being a statistician is that you get a license to poke your nose into everyone else's business.” – (??)
“Humanists believe that the world has a fixed number of mysteries, so that when one is solved, our sense of wonder is diminished. Scientists believe that the world has endless mysteries, so that when one is solved, there are always new ones to ponder.” – D. O. Hebb quoted by Steven Pinker
“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, (1962), ”The future of data analysis.” Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33, 1-67.
“A bad answer to a good question may be far better than a good answer to a bad question.” – a graduate class extrapolating from Tukey's dictum.
“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” – James Thurber
“I have a lot of questions . . . but I don't know what they are.” – overheard at the end of what must have been an inspiring lecture
“The worst, i.e., most dangerous, feature of  'accepting the null hypothesis' is the giving up of explicit uncertainty . . . Mathematics can sometimes be put in such black-and-white terms, but our knowledge or belief about the external world never can.” – John W. Tukey. (1991). ”The Philosophy of Multiple Comparisons.” Statistical Science 6, 100--116.

”Where there is no uncertainty there cannot be truth.” – Feynman? or Bohr?: a strong endorsement for confidence intervals?

“Art is a lie that enables us to realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso

“At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning.” – Edward Tufte,  www.edwardtufte.com
“An elementary demonstration is one that requires no knowledge – just an infinite amount of intelligence.” -- Richard Feynman.

Box and Cox
        transformed“All models are wrong but some are useful.” – George E. P. Box

“All models are wrong but, we hope, not as wrong as the ones we used earlier.” –paraphrased from Isaac Asimov

“The business of the statistician is to catalyze the scientific learning process.” – George E. P. Box

“There are no routine statistical question; only questionable statistical routines.” – D.R. Cox
“We at York must give special emphasis to the humanizing of man, freeing him from those pressures which mechanize the mind, which make for routine thinking, which divorce thinking and feeling, which permit custom to dominate intelligence, which freeze awareness of the human spirit and its possibilities...” – Murray G. Ross
“It is much more important to be clear than to be correct.” – Blair Wheaton

“It is better to be wrong than to be vague.” – Freeman Dyson
“Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification.” – Karl Popper
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain with attribution to Benjamin Disraeli
“Lies--damned lies--and statistics” – Leonard Henry Courtney with attribution to a ”Wise Statesman,” possibly Disraeli [see http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/lies.htm]
“Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.” – S. Wilks attributing to H. G. Wells
“It is easy to lie with statistics. It is hard to tell the truth without it.” – Andrejs Dunkels
“Human History becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” – H. G. Wells
“Data analysis is an aid to thinking and not a replacement for.” – Richard Shillington

“Methodology should never be allowed to displace intelligence.” – [paraphrased from Lee Wilkinson, I think]

“Another thing about fit indices is that they are used all too often as substitutes for thinking. In most cases, statistical analysis should be not about determining the ”best fitting” model according to a single numerical criterion. In any given research there hopefully are underlying substantive theory and knowledge, the research hopefully is guided by research questions and knowledge about control variables, there is a distinction between primary and secondary interest, a single research often has elements of hypothesis testing as well as exploration, etc. etc. Fit indices in the ?IC family are useful only as a secondary type of summary information, but research questions and existing  knowledge are more important.”  – Tom Snijders
“If you try to estimate everything, you will end up estimating nothing.” – [I forget who said this but I'd like to know!]
“Fishing for hypotheses is like throwing a dart at a wall and then drawing a target around it.” –  Andrée Monette
“When statistics are not based on strictly accurate calculations, they mislead instead of guide. The mind easily lets itself be taken in by the false appearance of exactitude which statistics retain in their mistakes, and confidently adopts errors clothed in the form of mathematical truth.” – Alexis de Tocqueville [With the benefit of a few centuries to reflect on this, we appreciate that the accuracy of the calculations is only one of many requirements to ensure that statistics guide and not mislead]
“Causal interpretation of the results of regression analysis of observational data is a risky business.  The responsibility rests entirely on the shoulders of the researcher, because the shoulders of the statistical technique cannot carry such strong inferences.” – Jan de Leeuw.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein
“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.”  – Bertrand Russell
“Moral indignation is jealousy wearing a halo.” – H. G. Wells  [what does this have to do with statistics?]
From the Globe & Mail, Social Studies column by Michael Kesterton, September 9, 2003:
Random: Washington-area teenagers have been overheard saying such things as: ”Did you see that outfit she was wearing? That was so random!” ”Who invited those random kids to this party?” ”I never watch the news on TV. It's too, like, random.” The adjective seems to mean ”serendipitous,” but is more value-neutral. ”It's actually rather specific the way students use it,” English teacher Patrick Welsh tells The Washington Post, adding ”the brightest of the bright kids are the ones who tend to use it.”

“I have a soft spot for secret passageways, bookshelves that open into silence, staircases that go down into a void, and hidden safes. I even have one myself, but I won't tell you where. At the other end of the spectrum are statistics which I hate with all my heart.” – Luis Buñuel

“I believe that the artist doesn't know what he does. I attach even more importance to the spectator than to the artist.” – Marcel Duchamp

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?” – Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948), ”Non-Violence in Peace and War”  

“No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from.” – Linus van Pelt ( Peanuts )

“Natural Selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability.” – Sir Ronald Fisher

“In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer

“Being a statistician means never having to say you're certain” – ??

“The methods of statistics turn art into science” paraphrased from Arnold Zellner

“Statistics is an art struggling to be a science” –  Heather Krause

“The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence” – Carl Sagan and many many others

“Changing your mind is the only sure proof you can offer that you've got one” –  Richard P. Feynman quoting ??

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. – Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

“Statisticians learn not to be surprised by the improbable – which is usually probable – only by the improbably improbable” – ??

“Railing against collinearity is like railing against gravity” – anonymous referee.

“There once was a student of yore
Whose inference truly was poor.
        From a sample of one,
        His mean was .1,
And the variance he found was .4. G. Eric Moorhouse
“If you think you understand X that's a sure sign that you don't understand X”  – a metaquote.

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” – André Gide

“If you amplify everything, you hear nothing.” – Jon Stewart

“Seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run away from those who have found it.” – Vaclav Havel

“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he is one who asks the right questions.” – Claude Lévi-Strauss ( Le Cru et le Cuit, 1964 ) (*)

“We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.” – Samuel Johnson

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency – Emily Dickinson

“Correlation does not imply causation but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there.' – Randall Munroe xkcd.com.

“OK! Correlation does not imply causation yada yada.” – Paul Krugman

“... a primary objective in the design and analysis of observational studies is to control, through sampling and statistical adjustment, the possible biasing effects of those confounding variables that can be measured: a primary objective of in the evaluation of observational studies is to speculate about the remaining biasing effects of those confounding variables that cannot be [or: were not] measured.” – Donald B Rubin (Matched Sampling for Causal Effects, 2006)

“Let us change our traditional attitude to the construction of programs: Instead of imagining that our main task is to instruct a computer what to do, let us concentrate rather on explaining to humans what we want the computer to do.” – (Donald E. Knuth, 1984).(*)

“...academic administrative positions must be about both leadership and management because one without the other leads to no results or to trivial results.” – Sheila Embleton. For a few reflections on academic governance that are both deep and practical see a Y File article.

“It's foie. You've got to get it right”  – the ”King of Ginger” performing quality control at The Black Hoof

“It's not the data alone, but analytics – and people trained to use them – that generate real value from big data.” – Suzanne Gordon, CIO, SAS

“After Eisenhower, you couldn't win an election without radio. After JFK, you couldn't win an election without television. After Obama, you couldn't win an election without social networking. I predict that in 2012, you won't be able to win an election without big data.” – Alistair Croll