In God We Trust; Others Must Provide Data

W. Edwards Deming? Edwin R. Fisher? Bernard Fisher? Cecil R. Reynolds? Brian L. Joiner? Ronald D. Snee? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Would you please examine a humorous empirically-minded statement that expands upon a famous motto appearing on U.S. currency. Here are three versions:

  • In God we trust; all others must use data.
  • In God we trust; all others must bring data.
  • In God we trust; others must have data.

When do you think this quip originated?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI was spoken by Professor of Pathology Edwin R. Fisher who was addressing a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

I should like to close by citing a well-recognized cliche in scientific circles. The cliche is, “In God we trust, others must provide data.” What we need is good scientific data before I am willing to accept and submit to the proposition that smoking is a hazard to the nonsmoker.

Fisher stated that the adage was already a cliché in 1978. Thus, the originator remains anonymous at this time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading In God We Trust; Others Must Provide Data


  1. 1978, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Tobacco of the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Ninety-Fifth Congress, Second Session, Title of Hearing: Effect of Smoking on Nonsmokers, Date of Hearing: September 7, 1978, Statement of Edwin R. Fisher M.D. (Director of Laboratories, Shadyside Hospital, and Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine), Start Page 2, Quote Page 5, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. (HathiTrust) link