The proverb “the ends justify the means” sometimes is told in the statistics joke “the Ns justify the means.” “When do the ns justify the means? Clinical biostatistics gone astray” was the title of an article in *Pediatrics* in Aoril 1973. “And, as the old joke has it, that the data are sufficiently well-behaved so that the ‘n’s’ justify the ‘means’”’ was printed in *Proceedings of the Statistical Computing Section, American Statistical Association* in 1990.

“My stats professor told me that the larger the sample size the more trustworthy the data. The Ns justify the means” was posted on Reddit—Jokes on July 2, 2016.

Wiktionary: the end justifies the means

*Etymology*

Widely attributed to Machiavelli’s *The Prince*, which does reflect this philosophy but does not use the phrase in this wording. A possible source is Ovid’s *Heroides* (ca. 10 BC), which says *exitus ācta probat* (“the result justifies the deeds”).

*Proverb*

the end justifies the means

1. Morally wrong actions are sometimes necessary to achieve morally right outcomes; actions can only be considered morally right or wrong by virtue of the morality of the outcome.

OCLC WorldCat record

*When do the ns justify the means? Clinical biostatistics gone astray.*

Edition/Format: Article Article : English

Publication: Pediatrics, 1973 Apr; 51(4): 758-9

Google Books

*Proceedings of the Statistical Computing Section*

American Statistical Association

1990

Pg. 52:

(And, as the old joke has it, that the data are sufficiently well-behaved so that the “n’s” justify the “means”.)

Google Groups: sci.astro

sci.astro

*Shannon R. Madsen*

5/13/91

(...)

“The n’s justify the means.” --An unknown Machiavellian statistician

Google Groups: bit.listserv.edstat-l

Humor

*John Wendell*

10/24/92

Just got my Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics in the mail. On the back cover is a picture of John W. Tukey holding a copy of the journal. Just above the journal is a sign that reads “THE N’S JUSTIFY THE MEANS.” (I’m interpolating the second THE).

OCLC WorldCat record

*Do the Ns justify the means? Null hypothesis testing applied to sex and other differences.*

Author: Olga E Favreau

Edition/Format: Article Article : English

Publication: Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, v34 n1 (1993): 64-78

Google Groups: sci.stat.consult

Statistical Quotes

*Meredith...@frankston.com*

8/30/96

Samuel Buttrey listed several t-shirt quotes.

At this year’s Joint Stat Meetings, the winner (that is, the one that was sold out after two days) was:

“The Ns justify the means”

Twitter

Ant O’Fearghail

@aofarre

Replying to @JillKerby

@JillKerby Reminds me of an old stats lecturer of mine. Explaining the importance of sample size, he said, “The ‘n’s justify the Means!”

2:30 PM - 26 Jul 2011

Google Books

*DOE Simplified:
Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation, Third Edition*

By Mark J. Anderson and Patrick J. Whitcomb

Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press

2015

Pg. ?:

“The ns justify the means.”

(Slogan on shirt seen at an American Statistical Association meeting)

Reddit—Jokes

Why are statistics more believable with a larger sample size?

submitted October 27, 2015 by hPerks

The Ns justify the means.

Reddit—Jokes

My stats professor told me that the larger the sample size the more trustworthy the data.

submitted July 2, 2016 by JeffSachs

I guess the N’s justify the means.

Reddit—Dad Jokes

Statisticians love large sample sizes. (self.dadjokes)

submitted February 5, 2018 by porichoygupto

As they say, the n’s justify the means.

Reddit—Dad Jokes

My statistics professor told us that the larger the sample size, the more reliable are your averages. (self.dadjokes)

submitted September 30, 2018 by porichoygupto

The N’s justify the means.

Medlife Crisis (Rohin)

@MedCrisis

Remember with increasing sample size, your averages become more reliable

The Ns justify the means

12:04 PM - 30 Sep 2018