Being a Statistician Means Never Having to Say You’re Certain

I was all over the place this weekend.

In addition to the NYTBR,  today saw the publication of another piece. This one, published in The Boston Globe, was a review of Sharon Bertsch McGrayne’s The Theory That Would Note Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines & Emerged Triumphant From Two Centuries of Controversy.

It’s quite a title, but it’s entirely understandable. 97.2%* of people would never read a history of statistics unless the book had blood in its mouth.

A bit from the review:

Bayes’s rule doesn’t spark innovation; it solves problems. McGrayne doesn’t pursue the implications of this, but her work gestures toward that important realization. Given the ever-increasing complexity of our world, scientific expertise offers itself as a refuge against uncertainty. But in the universities pure research doesn’t care about you — the single instance means little to such researchers. And in the world of applied science, technicians concern themselves with solving problems often of their own making, or suggesting your next impulse purchase. The result is an impasse, a lacuna in which the world as we live it is not the world that is researched, nor the world that is sold.

*98.7% of all percentages are made up on the spot.


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