From Flat Earth News:
You could argue that every profession has its defining value. For carpenters, it might be accuracy: a carpenter who isn’t accurate shouldn’t be a carpenter. For diplomats, it might be loyalty: they can lie and spy and cheat and pull all sorts of dirty tricks, and as long as they are loyal to their government, they are doing their job. For journalists, the defining value is honesty–the attempt to tell the truth. That is our primary purpose. All that we do–all that is said about us–must flow from the single source of truth-telling.
What is the defining value of statisticians?
P.S. My favorite of the responses below is Mike Anderson’s:
Separate the signal from the noise, then look at the noise for more signals.
I like this because (a) it acknowledges the presence of “noise” (that is, variation) but (b) recognizes that the “signal” is what’s most important.