Some Friday Humor

The following list of phrases and their definitions might help you understand the mysterious language of science and medicine. These special phrases are also applicable to anyone working on a Ph.D. dissertation or academic paper anywhere!

“It has long been known” = I didn’t look up the original reference.

“A definite trend is evident” = These data are practically meaningless.

“While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the questions” = An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.

“Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study” = The other results didn’t make any sense.

“Typical results are shown” = This is the prettiest graph.

“These results will be in a subsequent report” = I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.

“In my experience” = once.

“In case after case” = twice.

“In a series of cases” = thrice.

“Correct within an order of magnitude” = Wrong.

“According to statistical analysis” = Rumor has it.

“A statistically oriented projection of the significance of these findings” = A wild guess.

“A careful analysis of obtainable data” = Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of pop.

“It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs”= I don’t understand it.

“After additional study by my colleagues”= They don’t understand it either.

“A highly significant area for exploratory study” = A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

“It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field” = I quit.


  1. These are great. But I learned a few slightly differently in clinical training: “In my experience” = the one time I’ve seen this. “In my series” = the two cases like this I’ve seen. And “Time, after time, after time!! (with slapping the back of hand into the other palm for emphasis)” = the three cases of this I’ve seen.

  2. What’s sad is how well these phrases work in a variety of fields: polling, politics, business. Well, not sad, but hardly reassuring.
    But thanks for sharing.

    “Thanks for sharing = Yipee! I can use them without citing the Healthcare Economist”

  3. Hilarious! I especially like the one about spilling soda on the notes. Great blog by the way.

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