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

Where People Run in Major Cities

There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, …

Pizza Place Geography

Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile radius of where I live, so I have my pick, …

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts

In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema, and …

Interactive: When Do Americans Leave For Work?

We don’t all start our work days at the same time, despite what morning rush hour might have you think.