An approximate answer

Posted to Quotes  |  Nathan Yau

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 Tukey

3 Comments

  • I would add relative to what question or situation
    i would rather have the exact answer of:

    you must add 5lbs of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar to your margarita mix to make it perfect than…

    the approximate answer of:
    if you move approximately 5 feet to the right you might miss the head on collision a few feet away

  • Chris Pudney September 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Edward Tufte started an “Advice for effective analytical reasoning” thread with a (similar?) Tukey quote:

    “Be approximately right rather than exactly wrong.”

  • I think you mean “wrong question”, not “wrong quesiton”…
    And the point is still valid.

Favorites

Marrying Age

People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. What do these trends look like?

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …

Most popular porn searches, by state

We’ve seen that we can learn from what people search for, through the eyes of Google suggestions: state stereotypes, national …

How We Spend Our Money, a Breakdown

We know spending changes when you have more money. Here’s by how much.