The Gosset Laboratory


THE GOSSET LABORATORY is an evolving sample of articles, chapters, lectures, and reviews on William Sealy Gosset aka “Student” (1876-1937), by Stephen T. Ziliak.

For additional articles, chapters, reviews, lectures, and interviews, visit

A group of mathematicians has been trying for years to have a core statistical concept debunked.  Now, the Supreme Court might have done it for them.”   – Carl Bialik, Making a Stat Less Significant, The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2011, p. A5


This plaque in honor of William Sealy Gosset aka "Student" - he of Student's test of significance - is now displayed at Student's family home of many years, in Monkstown, Dublin, Ireland.

This plaque in honor of William Sealy Gosset aka “Student” – he of Student’s test of significance – is now displayed near Student’s family home of many years, in Dublin, Ireland.

Discussed by Casey Mulligan in his New York Times article, “The Economics of Randomized Experiments” (March 5th, 2014)

“The Unprincipled Randomization Principle,” by Ziliak and Teather-Posadas, is discussed by Tim Harford in the Financial Times, “The Random Risks of Randomized Trials” (April 25th, 2014), and at

Smullyan and the Randomistas, in Andrew Gelman’s Statistical Modeling (June 23rd, 2014)

* “Recommended economics writing” by The Economist (July 20th, 2011) and “Statisticians in the News”, by the American Statistical Association.

  • Gosset aka “Student” inspired article on the trouble with the so-called “gold standard”: significance testing and randomized trials in medicine, field experiments in economics, and other areas: Stephen T. Ziliak, The Validus Medicus and a New Gold Standard, The Lancet 376, No. 9738 (July 31, 2010): 324 – 325.
“Memoria technica,” by Student (1927, p. 160), “Errors of Routine Analysis,” Biometrika XIX

See also: Tim Harford (aka “The Undercover Economist”),Enlightened Research Fueled By The Dark Stuff,” Financial Times, Feb. 7, 2009.

Tim Harford,Statistical Significance,” BBC Radio 4, “More or Less” program, interview, Feb. 2, 2009.

Tim Harford, Statistical Significance and a U.S. Supreme Court Decision (Matrixx v. Siracusano), BBC Radio 4, “More or Less” program, interview, April 15, 2011.

Kevin McConway, Statistically Significant: The US Supreme Court Takes a View, OpenLearn, Open University (Milton Keynes, UK) in cooperation with BBC Radio 4’s “More or Less”, hosted by Tim Harford.

Carl Bialik (aka “The Numbers Guy”), “Making a Stat Less Significant,” The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2011, p. A5.

Carl Bialik, “A Statistical Test Gets Its Closeup,” The Wall Street Journal, The Numbers Guy blog, April 1, 2011.

Prepublication version reviewed by: Andrew Leonard, Celebrate the History of Statistics: Drink a Guinness – How a Master Brewer Forged New Ground in the Quantitative Progress of Science,” Salon, Sept. 28, 2009; see also: The Economist, “Guinness is Good For You, If You’re a Statistician” (Sept. 28, 2009) and Mark Thoma’s Economist’s View, “250 Years of Clever Counting” (Sept. 27, 2009).

The article is: Stephen T. Ziliak, “Matrixx v Siracusano and Student v Fisher: Statistical Significance on Trial,” Significance 8 (3, 2011), published by the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, pp. 131-134.

See also:  Brief of Amici Curiae by Statistics Experts Professors Deirdre N. McCloskey and Stephen T. Ziliak in Support of Respondents [Siracusano] (vol. No. 09-1156, pp. 22).  Washington DC: Supreme Court of the United States.  With Edward Labaton et al. Counsel of Record (Ed.), Matrixx et. al. v. Siracusano and NECA-IBEW Pension Fund, filed Nov. 12, 2010.

  • Article (with D.N. McCloskey) on Gosset and the future of statistics: The Cult of Statistical Significance,” Proceedings of the Joint Statistical Meetings, 2009 (Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association): 2302-2306.  Text of Ziliak’s “Highlight Lecture”, Joint Statistical Meetings, Washington, DC, 2009.

  • Keynote Lecture: “Guinnessometrics: The Economic Foundation of ‘Student’s’ t,” 1st Conference on Beeronomics: The Economics of Beer and Brewing, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium, May 29, 2009.

Videotaped by The Wall Street Journal Europe, Future Leadership Institute, May 29, 2009.

  • Special Invited Lecture on “Guinnessometrics: The Economic Foundation of ‘Student’s’ t,” Gosset Centenary (100th Anniversary of Student’s distribution, table, and test of significance), International Biometric Society and Irish Statistical Association, University College Dublin, July 16, 2008.  Panelists: James Hanley, Stephen Senn, Stephen Ziliak, and Sir David Cox; Organizer: John Hinde.

Other Gosset-related research by Stephen T. Ziliak:

  • Article (with D.N. McCloskey) on the misuse of significance testing in econometrics:  “Size Matters: The Standard Error of Regressions in the American Economic Review,” The Journal of Socio-Economics 33 (2004): 527-546.  Text of Plenary Lecture, “The Culture of Statistical Significance,” American Economic Association and Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA), San Diego, Jan. 2004.  Panelists: Stephen Ziliak, Deirdre McCloskey, Sir Clive Granger, Joel Horowitz, Ed Leamer, Anthony O’Brien, Erik Thorbecke, Arnold Zellner; Chair: Kenneth Arrow, Organizer: Morris Altman.
  • Reply (with D.N. McCloskey) to critics Sir Clive Granger, Graham Elliott, Joel Horowitz, Ed Leamer, Anthony O’Brien, Peter Lunt, Erik Thorbecke, Jeffrey Wooldridge, and Arnold Zellner: Significance Redux,” The Journal of Socio-Economics 33 (2004): 655-675.
  • Article (with D.N. McCloskey) on misuse of statistical significance in economics:The Standard Error of Regressions,” Journal of Economic Literature 34 (March, 1996): 97-114.