Letter to a Young Statistician: On ‘Student’ and the Lanarkshire Milk Experiment

The history of science is a laboratory for learning experimental science and statistics. Imagine Pasteur without a Priestley counterpoint, or Ronald Fisher without William S. Gosset, aka “Student.”

I discovered the value of history at school—the school of hard knocks. Many years ago, when I was a college student at Indiana University taking Introduction to Statistics, I imagined Student’s t-table was designed for students to use; the faculty, the professors of economics and biometrics and statistics, I figured, were probably using a different table of probabilities for testing hypotheses.

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