There are quite a number of cartoons out there, which feature jokes on statistics and which I use in my quantitative methods for archaeologists class. I want to share my fun, but there are too many for just one blog post, therefore: Let a new series be born!

I’ll begin the series with more general statistical topics in cartoons.

Three authors (that I know of) are competing for the “nerdiest cartoonist” title: Randall Munroe (xkcd.com), Zach Weinersmith (smbc-comics.com) and Jorge Cham (phdcomics.com). While Zach Wienersmith focuses often on more philosophical questions, xkcd and phdcomics will feature a lot in this list. Check them out!

Let’s begin with my absolute favourite at the moment, drawn by Randall Munroe (cartoons by him always include a mouse over text!):

https://xkcd.com/1781/

Because.

Statistics.

And Archaeology.

And mocking Indiana Jones.

What more do I want?

Explanation here: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1781:_Artifacts

https://xkcd.com/1050/

Here is another one by Randall Munroe commenting on the weird thought of mathematics not being useful, which is quite common in school children. You will never know beforehand, whether what you learn in school is something useful for the rest of your life or not (as explained here: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1050:_Forgot_Algebra).

I don’t think most archaeologists thought of statistics when they came to archaeology – and as I mentioned before, it had not been my favourite in math lessons – nonetheless knowing now what I can achieve with it, it really is fun (exhausting fun sometimes, admittedly 😉 )!

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/why-i-couldn39t-be-a-math-teacher

This cartoon by Zach Wienersmith is simply fitting nicely to Randall’s cartoon above.

Ehrm. Admittedly. I don’t use that one in class… 😉

http://vadlo.com/cartoons.php?id=71

Yeeeees, exactly.

Or exactly what some people think.

Know your method before you start data collection!

Vadlo has quite a number of funny cartoons showing the troublesome lifes of post-docs in sciences, smart lab mice and hopeful cats, check it out: http://vadlo.com/cartoons.php?id=1 !

http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=462

An early Jorge Cham.

Don’t let anyone tell you to simply “do a quick calculation”.

Things take time. Sometimes a lot of time.

http://phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1271

And another one by Jorge. A good conclusion to a basic statisics class, because now everyone should be able to realise these problems…

And that’s it for the first implementation of this series. I’ve got a few more planned on data, descriptive statistics, on testing and significance and I think there might be enough cartoons to do one on Bayesian statistics. Ha! I hope you enjoy this topic as much as I do… 😀

Sophie Schmidt

Founder & Editor

About the Author

My name is Sophie, I am a prehistoric and computational archaeologist and have been research associate at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne, as well as for the NFDI4Objects project at the German Archaeological Institute. I teach statistics for archaeologists, work on new methods in settlement archaeology (GIS, geostatistics in R and stuff) and am interested in archaeogaming. Now I started my phD-project on the 5th mill. BC in Brandenburg (that's North-East Germany).

View Articles