The Statistician's Song

Parody of “The Professor’s Song” Lyrics by Tom Lehrer (American Mathematical Monthly 81 (1974), 745, set to the melody of “If You Give Me Your Attention” from Princess Ida by Gilbert and Sullivan

Lyrics © 2021 Paul Velleman

If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am.
I'm a famous statistician – a professor with a plan.
I’ve tried for numerous degrees, in fact I've one of each;
Of course that makes me eminently qualified to teach.
I understand statistics theory thoroughly, it's true,
And I can't see why it isn't all as obvious to you.
Each lecture is a masterpiece, meticulously planned,
Yet everybody tells me that I'm hard to understand,
And I can't think why.

My charts and graphs are models of true art, you must agree,
And my powerpoints are famous for their legibility.
My equations are so clear you can absorb them at a glance.
My notation is derived from just what Pascal used in France.
The anecdotes I tell get more amusing every year,
Though frankly, what they go to prove is sometimes less than clear,
And all my explanations are quite lucid, I am sure,
Yet everybody tells me that my lectures are obscure,
And I can't think why.

Consider, testing whether there’s a difference between

the centers of two groups—you simply calculate the means

You sum the deviations—no, the variance I’ll bet

And maybe take a square root then of something—I forget.

Well, anyway, there is a test, of that there is no doubt.
All these formulas are trivial if you only think them out.
Yet students tell me, "I have memorized the whole year through
Ev'rything you've told us, but the problems I can't do."
And I can't think why!

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