by Jasper D. Memory (1935 - )
A hypochondriac at heart, he thought
(Though symptom free) he had a dire disease,
And after fruitless weeks of worry, sought
Some test to take to set his mind at ease.
He forthwith found one that would do the trick,
And accurate (at oh point nine) to tell
Those having the disease that they were sick,
And just the same, the well that they were well.
One crucial point he failed to note was this:
That of a hundred like him, only one
Had the disease, and this slip made him miss
The implication when the test was done
And positive! therefore, consumed with dread,
And now convinced his blackest fears were right
(By faulty logic fatally misled),
He shattered silence that calm summer night.
by Eveline Pye
Like a tracker, I smell the earth
on my fingers, listen for the slightest
echo as I stare out at a world
where bell-shaped curves loom
as mountains and negative exponentials
foretell dangerous descents, imminent
disaster. All around, cliff edges crash
down to restless seas while a solitary
outlier shines in the southern sky: a freak
of random sampling or a guiding light?
Are others buried deep, confounded
by experimental design? On my path,
a decision tree, so many branches
spring from its trunk, so many choices.
(for Sally Clark 1964 – 2007)
by Eveline Pye
You, Sally Clark, solicitor,
discover your son, Christopher
dead in his Moses basket. Harry, born
a year later, dies in his bouncy chair.
Paediatrician for the crown,
Sir Roy Meadow, tells the jury
two cot deaths in the same family
would occur only once in a century.
Odds are one in seventy-three million,
lower than the lottery, beyond all
reasonable doubt. An easy decision:
You must be guilty.
At Styal Prison, the horde screams,
Here's the nonce! Die woman, die!
They bang on the door, clamber up,
gawp as you cringe in a holding cell.
At the second appeal, your body
is free but your mind has crumpled.
You drink until you die,
your third son, left without a mother.
I tell this story to my medical students,
show death by natural causes
was more likely than murder.
Q: How does a statistics department chair relay news about unforeseen policy changes?
A: With a memorandom!
How did the statistics student respond after his locker was broken into at school and his belongings scattered?
He restored order by replacing his combination lock with a permutation lock!
Why did the mutually exclusive events break up?
They had nothing in common.
Chance. Stupid, dumb, blind chance. Just a part of the strange mechanism of the world, with its fits and coughs and starts and random collisions.
Lauren Oliver (1982 - )
May the odds be ever in your favor!
Suzanne Collins (1962 - )