5

From a Cross Validated (better known as Stats.SE) answer with 117 upvotes:

Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.

-Aaron Levenstein

As @Dikran Marsupial points out, the quote is found in Quotations for Our Time and requoted in Oxford Essential Quotations. @Jmac-recommended: So, here are some things you may want to consider: 1) Is/are the book(s) credible? 2) Is there a direct source rather than these indirect dictionary of quotations?*

Edit: I have seen this highly specific reference to 10 November 1951, Evening Standard (Uniontown, PA). Can anybody verify if the following quote (or similar) appears in the newspaper? (the newspaper itself existed at that time) "STATISTICS: At the Research Institute of America, Leo Cherne began to discuss the interpretation of statistics with his economist, Aaron Levenstein. The economist said: “Mr. Cherne, statistics are like a Bikini bathing suit. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

Closevoter: Notability is here in an O'Reilly book and here in an Oxford University Press book.

  • 4
    If the minor sense of humor isn't appreciated, please edit it out. In all seriousness though, I couldn't find a source. I will accept the answer that comes as close to pinpointing the origin of this quote. Pointing out that it has sometimes been attributed to somebody else isn't helpful. – Barry Harrison Apr 25 at 5:27
  • 3
    No need to hide the question from the title, see this meta-question about the problem. – pipe Apr 25 at 7:29
  • 2
    @pipe, I don't view it as an answer, just somewhere the answer may be found if someone has access to either of the two books (which I don't). – Dikran Marsupial Apr 25 at 11:18
  • 3
    Is there any reason you think this isn't the case? I literally popped "aaron levenstein" into google, and the first three hits include that exact quote from him in the google page preview text. It seems like the quote is something he is well known for... – JMac Apr 25 at 12:38
  • 2
    Why not ask on cross validated, they would be very qualified to answer the question. – Joe W Apr 25 at 17:27
15

Scanning the archives of the Uniontown Evening Standard, I find this entry for Sunday, November 10, 1951:

STATISTICS: At the Research Institute of America, Leo Cherne. began'to discuss the interpretation, of statistics...economist, Aaron Levenslein. The economist said: "Mr. Cherne, statistics are like a Bikini bathing suit. What ...said lo be showing improvement. ...Uniontown Evening Standard (Newspaper) - November 10, 1951, Uniontown, Pennsylvania

While this is a limited "snippet" view, it is unquestionably the same article quoted by your barrypopik.com link. Levenstein may have been misquoted or misattributed by Mr Cherne or the newspaper, but the newspaper article definitely was published.

  • 5
    "At the Research Institute of America, Leo Cherne began to discuss the interpretation of statistics with his economist, Aaron Levenstein. The economist said: 'Mr. Cherne, statistics, are like a Bikini bathing suit. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.' " from 1 day earlier in the Orlando Sentinel. newspapers.com/newspage/222436425 – DavePhD Apr 26 at 17:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .