View Full Version : Statistics Poetry
02-08-2012, 01:55 AM
Love the Motherland, Love Statistics
Some mock me for doing statistics
Some loathe me and statistics
Some donít understand what statistics are
Why is it that statistics
Put a calm smile on my face?
Because of statistics I can solve the deepest mysteries
Because of statistics I will not be lonely again, playing in the data
Because of statistics I can rearrange the stars in the skies above
(by Chinese statistician Wang Jiaowei [translated],
The Wall Street Journal, September 26-27, 2009,
02-08-2012, 02:05 AM
or Why I should have paid attention in stats class
by Peter Flom
I've designed a great experiment
And collected all my data.
I've no idea what it all means
I'll get to that stuff later.
I've forgotten all the stats I learned,
And I never learned that much.
I needed it to pass my comps
But since then I've lost touch.
I'll do another lit review
And find another theory,
But when it's time to analyze,
Everything goes bleary.
So I hired a consultant
To tell me what I'd got
He looked at three years of my life
And answered "Not a lot".
"There is no dissertation here,
There aren't any theses
Basically what you have got
Is a great big pile of feces!"
"You should have called me years ago
Now get this through your head:
You've hired a physician
But the patient is quite dead".
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 1994 14:40:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: A humorous poem
02-16-2012, 03:52 PM
Me and my buddies did a few studies
We wish we could acknowledge
A fancy research grant
But since ours was rejected
Unfortunately we can't.
Still Larry, Jill, and Jerry
All need to be thanked
But as for the reviewers
Those bastards should be spanked.
According to Germain & Johnson
(and also Smith, but cf Swanson)
People process information
From their current situation
Mainly from infatuation
- Only if they get the urge
From powerful affective surge
They get smart when touched by Cupid
Otherwise they're pretty stupid.
Other work on social thinking
Has provided findings linking
Self-conceptions and aggression
Especially amid repression
Before the topic was exhausted
The truth was found but then they lost it
Contradict'ry findings came out
Grand conclusions did a flameout
Pointed opposite directions
Issues were still mixed and muddy
So we thought we'd do a study.
The goal of our investigation
Was to get a publication
Research purposes were clear:
We wanted to get our tenure here.
Sitting over cheapo beers
We bemoaned our stalled careers
Waxing cynical and leery
Groping for a brilliant theory
Wondered how to make a splash
And get some research funding cash
Toot our horn, like Diz Gillespie,
And get into JPSP,
Things like this, not any logic
Caused us to pursue this project.
As usual, our theory's cursed:
Freud or Heider said it first.
He thought it up but didn't test it
Back then, was 'nuff to just have guessed it.
Though the recompense was meagre
Subjects signed up seaming eager
Possibly they liked our title
(A catchy one is often vital)
Sign-up sheets said bold and clear,
"Chocolate, money, sex, and beer".
Seated at computer screen,
Craving stimuli obscene
Instead we held them up for fools
and trotted out our usual tools
Slides of subliminal prime
(Software costs a pretty dime)
Timed IQ tests, pass or fail,
Here and there a Likert scale,
Questionnaires with spaces fillable,
Long dull lists of nonsense syllable
Variables are elusive?
We have measures more intrusive
Sensors on their private parts
Record their hiccups, burps, and farts
To reveal their state of mind
Through data patterns we shall find.
Polygraphs with lines a-wagging
Inform us their attention's lagging
So we push their affect button
Get their hormones all a-struttin'.
Manipulated and provoked
Their angry impulses were stoked
We got them hot under their collars
But then we paid them each two dollars
(A fair and proper settlement-
Besides, they signed informed consent.)
They listened to our full debriefing
And gave "the finger" before leaving.
To buttress our investigation
We checked the manipulation
Ratings on the questionnaire
Across conditions, did compare
And showed that in our lab'ratory
They believed our cover story
They fell for it, and what is more,
Rated us a total bore.
Next we turned with doubtful pleasure
To analyze dependent measure
Oh how we tried to beat the odds
Courting the statistics gods
Sacrifices, prayers, libations,
Square, covary, standardize,
T-tests tell the sweetest lies.
LISREL made us feel a fool,
Reviewers, though, will think itís cool.
Finally in our musty basement
Printouts showed to our amazement
Sort of a pink elephant
Our finding was significant!
Now it's time to tell our story
Of how our t-tests, in their glory,
may advance the stock of knowledge
(and our paychecks from the college).
Our results, and you can quote us,
Show that students mainly notice
Things romantic and lascivious
To all else they seem oblivious.
Regarding our investigations
Puzzle and befog our brains
And in our asses give us pains
Not to mention blind reviewers
(Minds like knives and mouths like sewers)
But their suggestions were all heeded
But still, more research is needed.
The broadest point, as we reflect,
Is that the human intellect
Is ****er than you would expect.
Baumeister, R. F. & Tice, D. M. (1998). Me and my buddies did a few studies. Dialogue, the Newsletter of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 13(2), 16.
02-16-2012, 04:38 PM
"....You've hired a physician
But the patient is quite dead".
Priceless! As is often the case, statisticians are called upon only when there is a deep trouble.
Thanks K for sharing some wonderful and light-hearted poems.
05-25-2012, 07:02 AM
by Neil Harding McAlister
No politician wishes to get caught
With policies opposed to public thought.
A popular position holds more sway,
So mathematics comes to save the day.
Some pollsters are retained to man the phones.
They only reach the folks who are at home;
But now heís got a survey full of notes --
A skewed opinion poll that he can quote.
And thus statistics help our leaders lead
When leading from the rear is all they need.
The world of medicine is fertile soil
For workers who in TV newsrooms toil.
A staffer scans some journals Ďtil she finds
An article to baffle laymenís minds,
Then takes her viewers down the garden path
Less through ill-will than ignorance of math.
This person, who is no statistics whiz,
Thinks probability translates to ďis.Ē
Her foolish talk of breakthroughs spawns false hope,
But all that hype helps sponsors sell more soap.
Now eager to advance his own career
And garner kudos from his trusting peers,
With ardent lust for academic fame
And big, fat research grants that bear his name,
A scientist pads up his resume
With guff that should not see the light of day.
His papers bulge with histograms and plots,
ANOVA, chi squaredís, Studentís tís -- the lot.
So what if he has analyzed with care?
His data were all fudged out of thin air!
Innumerates donít know statistics lore;
But aiding us, as in the days of yore,
A scepticís common sense can serve us well.
It doesnít take a Ph.D. to tell
That making little thoughts seem so much bigger,
The figures may not lie -- but liars figure!
07-13-2012, 10:50 AM
Careful, it's not causation
Variables may lurk
So many numbers
So little time left,
Whats that equation?
Is only the beginning
From the Smith College MTH190 (Statistical Methods for Undergraduate Research) spring 2005 and spring 2010 classes
A haiku consists of three lines.
The first and third lines must have 5 syllables each;
the second line must have seven.
Here, the requirement was dropped that a season
of the year be mentioned.
11-12-2012, 04:01 AM
Hiawatha Designs an Experiment
by Maurice Kendall
Hiawatha, mighty hunter,
He could shoot ten arrows upward,
Shoot them with such strength and swiftness
That the last had left the bow-string
Ere the first to earth descended.
This was commonly regarded
As a feat of skill and cunning.
Several 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 man
In any subject whatsoever,
Waxed exceedingly indignant,
Talked about the law of errors,
Talked about truncated normals,
Talked of loss of information,
Talked about his lack of bias,
Pointed out that (in the long run)
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 he had wasted."
Hiawatha, in a temper,
Quoted parts of R. A. Fisher,
Quoted Yates and quoted Finney,
Quoted reams of Oscar Kempthorne,
Quoted Anderson and Bancroft
(practically in extenso)
Trying to impress upon them
That what actually mattered
Was to estimate the error.
Several of them admitted:
"Such a thing might have its uses;
Still," they said, "he would 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)
Used factorial arrangements
And the theory of Galois,
Got a nicely balanced layout
And successfully confounded
Second order interactions.
All the other tribal marksmen,
Ignorant benighted creatures
Of experimental setups,
Used 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 a 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.
But analysis 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 it might be mentioned,
Would have been much more convincing
If he hadn't been compelled to
Estimate his own components
From experimental plots on
Which the values all were missing.)
Still they couldn't understand it,
So they couldn't raise objections.
(Which is what so often happens
with analysis of variance.)
All the same his fellow tribesmen,
Ignorant benighted heathens,
Took away his bow and arrows,
Said that though my Hiawatha
Was a brilliant statistician,
He was useless as a bowman.
As for variance components
Several of the more outspoken
Make primeval observations
Hurtful of the finer feelings
Even of the statistician.
In a corner of the forest
Sits alone my Hiawatha
On the normal law of errors.
Wondering in idle moments
If perhaps increased precision
Might perhaps be sometimes better
Even at the cost of bias,
If one could thereby now and then
Register upon a target.
Kendall, Maurice (1959). Hiawatha Designs an Experiment. The American Statistician 13: 23-24.
03-21-2013, 10:09 AM
Some Studies That I Like To Quote
by James McCormack
Guidelines made me feel so happy I could die
I told my patients it was good enough
To lower glucose make them unconscious
I put my 95 year-olds on a statin
I should have known all along that this was wrong
100 over 60 made them fall, they really fall
Stopping salt and fat did not make sense
I really should have looked at evidence
I didn't know that half of guidelines were just opinion
You say I need an RCT
One that actually shows a difference in a real outcome
I'm supposed to know the NNT, and discuss it with my patients
Are you kidding me?
Don't know what a p-value is
You say I need a Cochrane review to help me find some numbers
I hear some surrogates were wrong
And now I need some studies I'm supposed to quote
Now I need some studies I'm supposed to quote
Now I need some studies I'm supposed to quote
Now and then I think of all the things you had me measure
You had me thinking there was always something that was wrong
All that fibre was an adventure
Now I'm passing wicker furniture
Beta-blockers made me feel real slow
And now you telling me about some studies that you need to quote
But now I'm reading RCTs
You get a 1% reduction from a low dose statin
I know now that an A1C of less than 8 is good enough as long as you don't pee
Forget about your CRP
Just don't eat like a great fat pig and go get some activity
I think that I can help you now
I finally have some studies that I like to quote
A parody of the song "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye.
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