Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Still waiting for the revolution": Review of The Lady Tasting Tea: HowStatistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century, by DavidSalsburg. Reviewed by David Colquhoun. Nature, 31 May 2001,pages 624-625.

The reviewer calls this book "the fun side of statistics." The book discussesthe lives and work of many of the outstanding statisticians of the 20th centuryand also provides a perspective on the influence of statistics in science. Thetitle of the book alludes to another book, by the statistician R. A. Fisher,which illustrates the principles of experimental design through thehypothetical question of how to test the claim that it is possible to tellwhether tea or milk went into the cup first. The book is nontechnical andgives good verbal descriptions of some of the great work in statistics, thereviewer notes, but the inadequacy of verbal descriptions is sometimesnoticeable. The reviewer also believes the author at times exaggerates theimportance of statistics in scientific research.

--- Allyn Jackson