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Hello

Statistics is an art

  but shh, please don't tell this to anybody

My father told me a real story from the communist Romania of 1960s.

He was a veterinary technician working county’s central office. This was a desk job where he used the knowledge gathered in a long apprenticeship on field. 

Among daily task he had to ask and record the basic data regarding number of animals in “production cooperatives” – the new communist farms… all these information were basic input data for the state statistics.

One day a report came from a farm: “Half of the number of horses died”.

  Just a note before moving forward: It was the mid of cold war and the horses were still (sic) recognized as a potential strategic (sic) source of “power” for military applications. In this “assumption”, the communication protocols requested that no specific, transparent values should be used in the reports on strategic resources ... The enemy listens permanently.

Obviously the report generated a significant concern in the “central” office...

  

…so a commission was assembled “ad hoc” and sent just next day to inspect and report the situation on field.

You can imagine the surprise when the commission found in the stable just one horse!... and the stable responsible clarified the situation: “But we had only two horses!”… so the report was absolutely truthful!

Statistics is a sharp double side sword able to defend and conquest but harms a lot too.

  I think that anybody having some familiarity with statistics understands that the interpretations of statistical data is an art J (don’t tell to our clients something like this).

The “correlation” between mozzarella and PhD engineers ...

  I tell my father story to the young engineers when they hit (maybe) first time the statistic problem(s). 

If my father’s story didn’t convince you already,I have one more story to tell (and a good link!) - the “correlation” between mozzarella and PhD engineers ...


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The “correlation” between mozzarella and PhD engineers ..

The source of the picture above is here:


http://www.tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=3890 



This text is written in my father memory.


Learn More

 The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century is a book by |David Salsburg about the history of modern statistics  and the role it played in the development of science and industry.  

The link below is to  a short paper on the same idea

Find out more