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Summary Statistics

  • Lyrics © 2016 Lawrence M. Lesser
    may sing to the tune of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"

    Picture statistics in the newspaper
    With context all missing or half summarized;
    Somebody chose just who would be surveyed
    And the order the items arise.
    Stats are each chosen and given a setting, polished and cut for a view:
    Look for the angle that reaches your eyes when they're done.

    CHORUS: This is how stats are like diamonds,
    This is how stats are like diamonds,
    This is how stats are like diamonds, ahhh……

    Follow the chain of a long calculation
    For students who view stats as math mechanized.
    But when you tell them "all stats are constructed",
    Their eyebrows will rise up so high!

    Newspaper numbers appear on page 4, labelled and grouped for display:
    Like a nice gem, this story now sparkled, unlike rocks. (Repeat Chorus)

    Picture a stat with no error or bias,
    Without a confounder that's lurking disguised.
    Take care that you see how that stat is presented:
    Most jewels have a flaw to apprise. (Repeat Chorus twice)

  • Q: Why did the statistics teacher spend far more time on mean and median than on standard deviation and variance?

    A: The department chair said to focus on central concepts.

    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.