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

Best Data Visualization Projects of 2016

Here are my favorites for the year.

How We Spend Our Money, a Breakdown

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

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.