Solving complex problems

For every complex problem there is a simple solution, and it is wrong.

~ H.L. Menken

Pattern recognition

Graphical display of data helps to form preliminary hypothesis, observe patterns, etc. However, one should be careful in staring too long at a graph. In the words of Carl Sagan,

Humans are good, she knew, at discerning subtle patterns that are really there, but equally so at imagining them when they are altogether absent

A trend is a trend

A trend is a trend, is a trend, but the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course, through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?


~Sir Alec Carincross

One of the Britain's most distinguished economists and a former chief economic advisor to the British government. (Extracted from J. Johnston and J. DiNardo: Econometric Methods, McGraw-Hill, 2007)

The hammer and the nail: v2

I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.
~ Abraham Kaplan, 1964, The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science



The hammer and the nail: v1


I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.
~ Abraham H. Maslow, 1962, Toward a Psychology of Being



Metaphors and truth


Econometric models are metaphors providing different windows on a complex and bewildering reality
~Pesaran (1988)

"Truth" is really nothing more than a "correspondence" with the facts, and an important role for the econometrics is to articulate what constitutes a satisfactory degree of correspondence
~Poirier (1988)

source: Kennedy (1992)

The right model?

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.

 ~ George E. P. Box

Anecdote and data

The plural of anecdote is not data.

The drunk statistician

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamposts - for support rather than for illumination
~ Andrew Lang

An aching desire for an answer


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.
~ John Tukey


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