Silly statistics, family style, Kipling and Bondi

The average UK mother of children aged 2 to 10 is asked 288 questions per day.  An online newspaper article (with comments) is here.

This was the result of a survey of 1000 mothers.  Just imagine how they did it!  How many days' observation? 

Many years ago, the late Sir Hermann Bondi, who had strong links with OR in the UK, told an audience the following.

Little children, up to the age of eight, nine, or ten, are constantly asking the question "Why?".  One aim of education is to stop them asking that question.  Education has its failures.  The resulting failures are called scientists.

One of the comments quoted Rudyard Kipling's poem, "I KEEP six honest serving-men", from the "Just So Stories", which I have heard quoted as being apposite for an Operational Research Scientist.

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!


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