The Lady Tasting Tea – David Salsburg

Honestly, I know next to nothing about statistics. It’s no wonder that I have not heard of this book, and most of the actors in the stories within. This is a good book that tells the tales of the origin of statistical studies and should be a must-read for all statistics majors. One major flaw was that he was writing too much for a layman, and most of the details are hidden behind some general explanation. While this is alright for a brief history of the subject, I sincerely believe that anyone who is willing to read a 300 page book on statistics, would like to see a deeper discussion. Another gripe is that the author seem to come across as one who is very critical of those who are only interested in pure theory/mathematics. That aside, the book is filled with gems.

I particularly like this delightful quote attributed to R. A. Fisher

A scientific career is peculiar in some ways. Its raison d’etre is the increase of natural knowledge. Occasionally, therefore, an increase of natural knowledge occurs. But this is tactless, and feelings are hurt. For in some small degree it is inevitable that views previously expounded are shown to be either obsolete or false. Most people, I think, can recognize this and take it in good part if what they have been teaching for ten years or so comes to need a little revision; but some undoubtedly take it hard, as a blow to their amour propre, or even as an invasion of the territory they have come to think of as exclusively their own, and they must react with the same ferocity as we can see in the robins and chaffinches these spring days when they resent an intrusion into their little territories. I do not think anything can be done about it. It is inherent in the nature of our profession; but a young scientist may be warned and advised that when he has a jewel to offer for the enrichment of mankind some certainly will wish to turn and rend him.

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