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The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom

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The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom

Harvard UP,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Did a beer manufacturer contribute to statistical analysis? Here’s the fascinating history behind data science.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Scientific


In his a colorful tour of biblical heroes and beer production, professor Stephen M. Stigler provides an entertaining, stimulating overview of data science and historical trends in statistics and data analysis. Math nerds will open the book for its concrete examples and mathematical formulas. Lay readers will engage with Stigler’s gossip and insights. Stigler speaks to geeks, academics and social scientists, but curious readers will find much to learn about this misunderstood and vital field.


Experts have debated the basic definition of statistics for centuries.

Since the 1800s, the analytical community has discussed the basic definition of statistics. The constant debate and the shifting answers reveal major themes:

  • Striking changes have unfolded in the development, application and analysis of statistics.
  • Disparate areas of physical and social sciences generated and altered statistical models.
  • Statistics is the study of data – a science that touches multiple disciplines.

Economics, biology and modern big data spark debates about the central discipline of statistics. The seven columns – or pillars of statistics outline the fundamental structures that support the broad systems of data science and analytics. The seven columns stand on ancient ground, with windows into modern applications.

Theories about mean averages and summaries shape the first column. 

The first column of statistics is the most ancient and controversial. During the 1800s, this pillar was called “The Combination of Observations,” or the calculation of the mean...

About the Author

Stephen M. Stigler is a professor at the University of Chicago. His other books include The History of Statistics and Statistics on the Table.

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