Posts tagged ‘statisticians’

Borel Cantelli Lemma for the Gaussian World

Almost two year long scrutinizing some publications by astronomers gave me enough impression that astronomers live in the Gaussian world. You are likely to object this statement by saying that astronomers know and use Poisson, binomial, Pareto (power laws), Weibull, exponential, Laplace (Cauchy), Gamma, and some other distributions.[1] This is true. I witness that these distributions are referred in many publications; however, when it comes to obtaining “BEST FIT estimates for the parameters of interest” and “their ERROR (BARS)”, suddenly everything goes back to the Gaussian world.[2]

Borel Cantelli Lemma (from Planet Math): because of mathematical symbols, a link was made but any probability books have the lemma with proofs and descriptions.

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  1. It is a bit disappointing fact that not many mention the t distribution, even though less than 30 observations are available.[]
  2. To stay off this Gaussian world, some astronomers rely on Bayesian statistics and explicitly say that it is the only escape, which is sometimes true and sometimes not – I personally weigh more that Bayesians are not always more robust than frequentist methods as opposed to astronomers’ discussion about robust methods.[]

Data Doctors

Terry Speed writes columns for IMS Bulletin and the June 2007 issue has Terence’s Stuff: Data Doctors (p. 7). He quotes Fisher who described a statistician as a post-mortem examiner or a pathologist, but thinks that statisticians (statistical consultants) are doctors who maintain close, active, and alive relationships with their patients.

Nonetheless, I think statisticians working with astronomers are assistants to post-mortem examiners. Most likely, statisticians nor astronomers cannot design experiments with unreachable objects. Astronomers are post-mortem examiners with telescopes and statisticians are assistants with charts which are by products from post-mortem examinations. These assistants may or may not be useful to astronomers.