Stats Basterds


Active Member
i was listening to podcast 'behind the bastards' got to thinking if there are any statisticians who were known bastards but contributed alot to stats theory. I mean reeeeeeeeeeeeal bastards, though, not just through modern eyes.


Well-Known Member
I hate to quote this about one of our great statisticians - "He seemed inhuman sometimes in his lack of consideration for the feelings of others.... Capable of rough handling those who opposed him with ready-made arguments that he treated with contempt: He was sometimes arbitrary and disagreeable: and he was recalcitrant to any form of coercion." Joan Fisher-Box, RA Fisher: The Life of a Scientist'
His work on eugenics and smoking was also somewhat questionable.


Less is more. Stay pure. Stay poor.
Yeah they are renaming a lectureship at a Cali uni (maybe Stanford or a UC) from his name to something else.
He also stymied the progression of Bayesian stats and may have been one of those that didn't support Wright Sewell.

I believe Pearson had issues too.


Less is more. Stay pure. Stay poor.
I agree - near a time when evolution was just getting figured out and DNA yet to be discovered - the ideas around eugenics must have been fascinating. Though - forced sterilization is obviously a bad idea and I would imagine some may not have been thinking about regression to the mean either.


TS Contributor
Racism and fascism is inherent in eugenics, from the very beginning with Galton.
They had a political agenda appearing as a scientific one.

We are not just "product of our times". Personal responsibility and scientific integrity
should guide our choices. The choices have consequences.


Active Member
oh fine. have it your way. So we'll add everyone born before 1972 to the stats bastards list, on suspicion of racist associations or existing in a general millieu of racism. So far the list:

Stats Basterds:
1) The alleged peter-peeper at Tufts.
2) Statisticians born before 1972
3) Spunky (you know what you did last summer)

What about modern bastards though, post 1972 (year racism ended in us).