OVERRIDE

The Lady Tasting Tea

How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century

David Salsburg

Holt Paperbacks

At a summer tea party in Cambridge, England, a lady states that tea poured into milk tastes differently than that of milk poured into tea. Her notion is shouted down by the scientific minds of the group. But one guest, by the name Ronald Aylmer Fisher, proposes to scientifically test the lady's hypothesis. There was no better person to conduct such a test, for Fisher had brought to the field of statistics an emphasis on controlling the methods for obtaining data and the importance of interpretation. He knew that how the data was gathered and applied was as important as the data themselves.

In The Lady Tasting Tea, readers will encounter not only Ronald Fisher's theories (and their repercussions), but the ideas of dozens of men and women whose revolutionary work affects our everyday lives. Salsburg traces the rise and fall of Karl Pearson's theories, explores W. Edwards Deming's statistical methods of quality control (which rebuilt postwar Japan's economy), and relates the story of Stella Cunliff's early work on the capacity of small beer casks at the Guinness brewing factory. The Lady Tasting Tea is not a book of dry facts and figures, but the history of great individuals 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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Holt Paperbacks

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