“A Statistician Is …”


For many years, I have taught “Principles of Clinical Trials” to early-career MDs. Most of them are young faculty who are initiating clinical trials research. At the first class, they complete a survey that asks them about their medical specialties and their experience with clinical trials and statistics. They are also asked to complete the following sentence: “A statistician is ________________.”

Here are some of the responses that I have received over the years. Some are humorous or creative, while others provide insights on the perception of statisticians from the perspective of a research clinician. Readers may wish to share other humorous or insightful responses that they may have heard or seen in the comment section below.

A statistician is …

To data what a doctor is to a patient

The wizard behind the curtain

An unlikely bedfellow that destroys dreams

An oasis in the desert

A person that makes me wish that I knew more statistics

Somebody who is wrong 5% of the time

Someone who answers my questions with more questions

“Someone who works with theoretical or applied statistics” (Wikipedia)

Someone who tries to find truth through numbers

Either a pain in the behind or an unveiler of grand secrets

The gateway to understanding

Your best stormy weather friend

A scientist who is able to transform data into information

Someone who proves with numbers what you are trying to prove with words

Your best friend but sometimes the rate-limiting step in manuscript writing

A magician whose art is based on deploying precise analytical tools

Someone that needs an office directly next to mine

An angel of God

The guy who keeps score at baseball games


Usually a nice person but difficult to understand

“Wicked smaht”

Someone that educates me about all of the assumptions that I am unknowingly making

Someone to consult before there is a problem

Much smarter than I will ever be

A friend for life if you can afford the FTE

A lifesaver


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1 Comment

  1. A statistician is someone who loves to work with numbers but doesn’t have the personality to be an accountant.