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Doin’ Statistics

1 August 2014 138 views No Comment

Grammy-winning artist Marc Cohn’s 1991 hit, “Walking in Memphis,” gave University of Texas at El Paso’s Lawrence Lesser the vehicle to reflect on what it was like discovering our discipline.

Took all this college math—math that they call pure.
I thought I’d do a lot with it, but now I’m just not sure.
Sir Ronald A. Fisher, won’t you look down over me:
What class can I take now that will set my thinking free?
Then I was doin’ statistics—I was workin’ with numbers I could see!
Doin’ statistics—now I really feel I found my field!

Learned of randomizing and hypothesis testing, too—
All around me, illuminating polls and studies in the news.
I really loved the challenge; it was a fun kind of hard.
Loved the variety “to play in everybody’s yard”!
I was doin’ statistics—I was workin’ with data I could see:
Doin’ statistics—now I really feel I found my field!

They’ve got all these big computers
For big data in the air
Reverend Bayes will be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prior …
Boy, you’ve got a prior for statistics!

Muriel’s tasting tea and Student’s brewin’ up some beer;
George Gallup and Nate Silver made elections clear.
What Billy Beane did for baseball, how Pandora finds tunes I like:
You say, “Tell me, are you a Bayesian?” I say, “Man, I am tonight!”
I was doin’ statistics—I was workin’ with data I could see:
Doin’ statistics—more degrees of feelin’ free!

So glad I found my path, a career with such allure:
Maybe the best part is I never have to say I’m sure!
Maybe the best part is I can quantify how I’m unsure …

Lyrics © 2013 Lawrence M. Lesser (reprinted with permission)

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