George Box Quotes



Best 20 Quotes by George Box

“Acceleration of knowledge generation also emphasizes the need for lifelong education. The trained teacher, scientist or engineer can no longer regard what they have learned at the university as supplying their needs for the rest of their lives.”

“Discovering the unexpected is more important than confirming the known.”

“History shows that the human animal has always learned but progress used to be very slow. This was because learning often depended on the chance coming together of a potentially informative event on the one hand and a perceptive observer on the other. Scientific method accelerated that process.”

“Just as the ability to devise simple but evocative models is the signature of the great scientist so overelaboration and overparameterization is often the mark of mediocrity.”

“One important idea is that science is a means whereby learning is achieved, not by mere theoretical speculation on the one hand, nor by the undirected accumulation of practical facts on the other, but rather by a motivated iteration between theory and practice.”

“Samuel Pierpoint Langley, at that time regarded as one of the most distinguished scientists in the United States evidently believed that a full sized airplane could be built and flown largely from theory alone. This resulted in two successive disastrous plunges into the Potomac River, the second of which almost drowned his pilot. This experience contrasts with that of two bicycle mechanics Orville and Wilbur Wright who designed, built and flew the first successful airplane. But they did this after hundreds of experiments extending over a number of years.”

“Scientific method is concerned with efficient ways of generating knowledge.”

“Statistical criteria should be sensitive to change in the specific factors tested, be insensitive to changes, of a magnitude likely to occur in practice, in extraneous factors.”

“Statisticians, like artists, have the bad habit of falling in love with their models.”

“Statistics is, or should be, about scientific investigation and how to do it better, but many statisticians believe it is a branch of mathematics.”

“Statistics is, or should be, about scientific investigation and how to do it better, but many statisticians believe it is a branch of mathematics. Now I agree that the physicist, the chemist, the engineer, and the statistician can never know too much mathematics, but their objectives should be better physics, better chemistry, better engineering, and in the case of statistics, better scientific investigation. Whether in any given study this implies more or less mathematics is incidental.”

“The business of the statistician is to catalyze the scientific learning process.”

“The management system which makes only a pretense of valuing employee involvement and encouraging employee empowerment merely breeds cynicism.”

“The old-fashioned idea of a good manager is one who is supposed to know all the answers, can solve every problem himself, and can give appropriate orders to his subordinates to carry out his plans. A good modern manager is like a good coach who leads and encourages his team in never-ending quality improvement.”

“The only way to know how a complex system will behave-after you modify it-is to modify it and see how it behaves.”

“The penalty for scientific irrelevance is, of course, that the statistician's work is ignored by the scientific community.”

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“Mass formation in one way or another will make that after a while, people feel even more socially isolated. That was exactly what happened in Nazi Germany and then in the Soviet Union as well. After a while, people didn’t dare to come together anymore with more than two or three people because they were always scared of being accused that they were conspiring against the state. So in that way, they became even more socially isolated than they were in the beginning, and that in itself made them more susceptible, more vulnerable to mass formation.

So the phenomenon of mass formation, indeed, in one way or another makes that society ends up in a vicious spiral. It always goes down, and it always goes down faster, and in the end, it always leads to its own destruction.”


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“To find out what happens to a system when you interfere with it you have to interfere with it. Not just passively observe it.”

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“All models are approximations. Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. However, the approximate nature of the model must always be borne in mind.”

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“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

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

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