Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
If we need a short suggestion of what exploratory data analysis is, I would suggest that
- It is an attitude AND
- A flexibility AND
- Some graph paper (or transparencies, or both).
In a world in which the price of calculation continues to decrease rapidly, but the price of theorem proving continues to hold steady or increase, elementary economics indicates that we ought to spend a larger and larger fraction of our time on calculation.
The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data.
The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone's backyard.