Last night (Valentine’s Day in Vegas) I saw a young couple, both typing away on their phones. That may say more about this particular couple’s prospects than it does about society at large, but this has become a modern cliché. It’s easy to hide behind an endless web of connectivity. But true connections, of course, are not measured by the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers but in the number of meaningful relationships that provide mutual value. That may sound trite, but it is something Statisticians need to take seriously.
Statisticians have a single responsibility with dual objectives: Make Connections! We’re good at the first objective which is to make connections within data, build relationships and correlations between inputs and outputs, and describe the meaning of those relationships. The second objective is where we often fall devastatingly short. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe the quantitatively inclined were never meant to be people persons. But we’re dead wrong if we think technological advances have finally established a Quant Utopia where we can to do our own thing without the annoyance of dealing with actual people. To do work that matters, that makes a difference, we must make more connections.