• by Lawrence Mark Lesser

    So much more than math
    ASA illuminates
    like Nightingale’s lamp

  • lyric © 2017 Lawrence M. Lesser
    sing to the tune of the KC & the Sunshine Band hit “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”

    Two…. million readers
    picked Landon to
    from thousands picked by chance.

    (Shake, shake, shake,
    shake, shake, shake:
    random sample,
    random sample)2x

    Ahhh, you think
    you can pick them
    very well,
    But drafting
    for Vietnam
    wasn’t swell.

    (Repeat Chorus)

    Shake, shake, shake
    shake, shake, shake:
    iPod Shuffle,
    quick pick lotto.
    Shake, shake, shake,
    take, take, take:
    random sample!

  • lyric © 2017 Lawrence M. Lesser
    sing to the tune of “Every Breath You Take” (Sting)

    For a two-man game
    where chances are the same.
    to win each frame,
    you just play the game to a score agreed to.

    If you take a break,
    divvy up the stakes.
    For fairness’ sake,
    you may only take what is due to you.

    Now we did see  in 17th-century: 
    Pascal and Fermat gave  a solution they made

    Well, their letters say
    just how many ways
    the unfinished frames 
    could have been played and how odds accrue.

    Problem solved, thanks to Pascal and Fermat,
    but there is more that their answer did unlock:
    Just look around at the theory that we use
    of probability and its allied tools.
    Let’s rejoice this problem of the points…….

    Divvy up the stakes
    for an unfinished game:
    For fairness’ sake,
    you may only take what is mu for you.

  • Lyric © 2017 Lawrence M. Lesser
    may sing to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer)

    Take me out to the brew'ry,
    biggest one in the world:
    Guinness used data to lead the pack--
    boost the taste and keep costs on track!
    But with few, few samples for testing,
    mean's error was so unexplained:
    then came William Gosset's result
    under Student's name!


  • Lyric © 2017 Lawrence M. Lesser
    may be sung to the tune of “Slip Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon

    CHORUS: Slip slidin’ to the mean, slip slidin’ to the mean,
    You know the less your correlation, the more you’re slip slidin’ to the mean.

    Well parents have daughter or son—
    Their heights were all observed by England’s Francis Galton:
    Extreme parents he did see
    Had kids that regressed toward mediocrity!

    (Repeat Chorus)

    And I know a teacher who gave high praise
    To the students whose midterms were the highest As;
    Those failing badly received rebuke—
    But the next test showed those extremes were a partial fluke!

    (Repeat Chorus)

    And I know a rookie who made the All-Star team
    And the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.
    You can imagine what the coach thinks
    When the star has sophomore slump as if there was a jinx!

    (Repeat Chorus)

    Watch the video

  • Lyric ©2017 Lawrence Mark Lesser
    To the tune of “From a Distance” by Julie Gold 

    With statistics,
    many soldiers were saved
    in the Crimean War.
    With statistics,
    Florence Nightingale
    found what made the death rate soar.
    With statistics, Florence graphed the data
    in innovative ways:
    A rose diagram, circular histogram,
    a polar area display.

    With statistics,
    uncleanliness was found
    to have caused those extra deaths.
    With statistics,
    Florence led reform
    to implement what was best.
    With statistics, she founded modern nursing
    with brilliance and compassion:
    She gave herself to the cause of health,
    she took bold action.

    God is teaching us, God is teaching us,
    God is teaching us through statistics.

    With statistics,
    England and India
    were healthier places to live.
    Oh, statistics
    shone like the lamp
    Florence brought from bed to bed.
    With statistics, she set an example
    of vision and of strength:
    More than pie charts, her mind and heart
    would light and lead the way.

  • Q: Why did someone think the first scientific opinion poll was done by a knight?

    A: Because he heard it was a SIR-vey, by George!

    Larry Lesser

  • by Eveline Pye

    War-like as the robin, territorial, blooded,
    her reputation bleached pencil-pale
    to create a sweet-sounding nightingale,
    an icon of care in the carnage of Crimea.

    No milksop angel offering only
    deathbed solace, Longfellow’s lady
    of the lamp sat in the glimmering gloom
    classifying the dead, drawing up tables.

    The robin’s song is not loud, it has no
    fancy trills and whistles; Florence
    talked the simple truth of numbers.
    Statistics saved a legion of soldiers.

  • by Sir Maurice G. Kendall (1907 - 1983)


    Hiawatha, mighty hunter
    He could shoot ten arrows upwards
    Shoot them with such strength and swiftness
    That the last had left the bowstring
    Ere the first to earth descended.
    This was commonly regarded
    As a feat of skill and cunning.


    One or two sarcastic spirits
    Pointed out to him, however,
    That it might be much more useful
    If he sometimes hit the target.
    Why not shoot a little straighter
    And employ a smaller sample?

    Hiawatha, who at college,
    Majored in applied statistics
    Consequently felt entitled
    To instruct his fellow men on
    Any subject whatsoever,
    Waxed exceedingly indignant
    Talked about the law of error,
    Talked about truncated normals
    Talked of loss of information,
    Talked about his lack of bias
    Pointed out that in the long run
    Independent observations
    Even though they missed the target
    Had an average point of impact
    Very near the spot he aimed at
    (With the possible exception
    Of a set of measure zero.)

    This, they said, was rather doubtful.
    Anyway, it didn't matter
    What resulted in the long run;
    Either he must hit the target
    Much more often than at present
    Or himself would have to pay for
    All the arrows that he wasted.

    Hiawatha, in a temper,
    Quoted parts of R. A. Fisher
    Quoted Yates and quoted Finney
    Quoted yards of Oscar Kempthorne
    Quoted reams of Cox and Cochran
    Quoted Anderson and Bancroft
    Practically in extenso
    Trying to impress upon them
    That what actually mattered
    Was to estimate the error.

    One or two of them admitted
    Such a thing might have its uses
    Still, they said, he might do better
    If he shot a little straighter.

    Hiawatha, to convince them,
    Organized a shooting contest
    Laid out in the proper manner
    Of designs experimental
    Recommended in the textbooks
    (mainly used for tasting tea, but
    Sometimes used in other cases)
    Randomized his shooting order
    In factorial arrangements
    Used in the theory of Galois
    Fields if ideal polynomials
    Got a nicely balanced layout
    And successfully confounded
    Second-order interactions.

    All the other tribal marksmen
    Ignorant, benighted creatures,
    Of experimental setups
    Spent their time of preparation
    Putting in a lot of practice
    Merely shooting at the target.

    Thus it happened in the contest
    That their scores were most impressive
    With one solitary exception
    This (I hate to have to say it)
    Was the score of Hiawatha,
    Who, as usual, shot his arrows
    Shot them with great strength and swiftness
    Managing to be unbiased
    Not, however, with his salvo
    Managing to hit the target.
    There, they said to Hiawatha,
    That is what we all expected.

    Hiawatha, nothing daunted,
    Called for pen and called for paper
    Did analyses of variance
    Finally produced the figures
    Showing beyond all peradventure
    Everybody else was biased
    And the variance components
    Did not differ from each other's
    Or from Hiawatha's
    (This last point, one should acknowledge
    Might have been much more convincing
    If he hadn't been compelled to
    Estimate his own component
    From experimental plots in
    Which the values all were missing.
    Still, they couldn't understand it
    So they couldn't raise objections
    This is what so often happens
    With analyses of variance.)

    All the same, his fellow tribesmen
    Ignorant, benighted heathens,
    Took away his bow and arrows,
    Said that though our Hiawatha
    Was a brilliant statistician
    He was useless as a bowman,
    As for variance components
    Several of the more outspoken
    Made primeval observations
    Hurtful to the finer feelings
    Even of a statistician.

    In a corner of the forest
    Dwells alone my Hiawatha
    Permanently cogitating
    On the normal law of error
    Wondering in idle moments
    Whether an increased precision
    Might perhaps be rather better
    Even at the risk of bias
    If thereby one, now and then, could
    Register upon the target.