Stats Made Easy

Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation

Friday, September 07, 2007

Jokes about scientists and statisticians who are powerfully driven to repeat bad things

Physicist Randall Munroe posted this insightful cartoon showing how the behavior of a scientist differs from normal when confronted with shocking consequences of a controllable behavior. It reminded me of the anecdote about a research lab burning down accidentally. Afterward a physicist and chemical engineer (my profession) discuss the mass transfer of fuels, exothermic reactions and the like. Meanwhile a statistician stands there quietly listening. Finally the other two ask "What do you think?" The statisticians says that all of this technical talk matters little, action should be taken immediately. What is the recommendation? Burn down another lab! (Knowing how important sample size can be for the power of statistics, I suspect that this kept going until the entire complex went up in flames.)


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