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The Lady Tasting Tea

How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century

David Salsburg

Holt Paperbacks

An insightful, revealing history of the magical mathematics that transformed our world.

At a summer tea party in Cambridge, England, a guest states that tea poured into milk tastes different from milk poured into tea. Her notion is shouted down by the scientific minds of the group. But one man, Ronald Fisher, proposes to scientifically test the hypothesis. There is no better person to conduct such an experiment, for Fisher is a pioneer in the field of statistics.

The Lady Tasting Tea spotlights not only Fisher's theories but also the revolutionary ideas of dozens of men and women which affect our modern everyday lives. Writing with verve and wit, David Salsburg traces breakthroughs ranging from the rise and fall of Karl Pearson's theories to the methods of quality control that rebuilt postwar Japan's economy, including a pivotal early study on the capacity of a small beer cask at the Guinness brewing factory. Brimming with intriguing tidbits and colorful characters, The Lady Tasting Tea salutes the spirit of those who dared to look at the world in a new way.

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The Lady Tasting Tea
CHAPTER 1THE LADY TASTING TEAIt was a summer afternoon in Cambridge, England, in the late 1920s. A group of university dons, their wives, and some guests were sitting around an outdoor table for afternoon tea. One of the women was insisting that tea tasted different depending upon whether the tea was poured into the milk or whether the milk was poured into the tea. The scientific minds among the men scoffed at this as sheer nonsense. What could be the difference? They could not conceive of any difference in the chemistry of the mixtures that could exist. A thin, short man,
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Lady Tasting Tea

"Highly readable and well-written. Give it to someone you want to delight."
--Alcan R. Feinstein, M.D., Sterling Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Yale University School of Medicine

"A fascinating description of the kinds of people who interacted, collaborated, disagreed, and were brilliant in the development of statistics."
--Barbara A. Bailar, National Opinion Research Center

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David Salsburg

  • David Salsburg is a retired pharmaceutical company statistician and currently works as a private consultant. He has been a member of the American Statistics Association since 1964 and has taught at Harvard, Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut, the University of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island College, and Trinity College. During his latter years of teaching, Salsburg became Senior Research Fellow at Pfizer, Inc., in the Central Research Department.
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The Lady Tasting Tea

How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century

David Salsburg

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Holt Paperbacks

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