Sunday, June 5, 2011

Busking for Business

On World Statistics Day, 20.10.2010, the Royal Statistical Society launched its getstats campaign. This is a major drive to promote the statistical profession and the importance of statistics to the general population. It's a consciousness-raising venture that, as a Fellow of the RSS, I heartily endorse. Recently, the getstats campaign manager, Debra Hurcomb, has suggested that we should view this as a form of busking.

Now, taken literally, this appealed to me no end, and I thought immediately of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA)  and their biennial meetings, which are famous for their highly creative cabarets. If you're not familiar with all of this already, you really should check it out at The Bayesian Songbook.

The Songbook should be on the "required reading" list of courses in statistical or econometric methodology. I certainly link to it on the web page I use when I'm teaching our elective graduate econometrics course - a course that includes both frequentist and Bayesian material. We don't actually have sing-along sessions in that course - given the quality of my singing, that would be one sure way to clear the room in a hurry.

The origins of the Bayesian Songbook can be traced to to George Box's wonderful song, "There's no Theorem Like Bayes' Theorem", to be sung to the tune of "There's no Business Like Show Business". It's a classic of epic proportions, and was first performed at the first ISBA Valencia meeting in 1979.

Just another instance of  Bayesians being ahead of the curve! As if we really needed more examples!

So, following the exhortations of the RSS, and the lead of the ISBA, it's just glaringly obvious that we should be out there promoting Econometrics with some creative and energetic busking. And we have a leader already! Guy Judge at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. has been on to this for some time, so it's just a matter of getting in behind him! I'm particularly partial to his "Heteroskedasticity Blues"; and if (like me) you can't carry a tune, Guy also has a nice collection of Econometrics poems.

So, once more, from the top - with feeling!

© 2011, David E. Giles

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