During one development meeting early in my industrial career, a process development group member asked me whether the value my group had reported in one result was okay to use. I confidently replied “Yes, it’s fine. It’s about 40, somewhere Between 38 and 42. The other person raised his eyebrows – an answer not met with full understanding, but rather concern.

My answer hadn’t been incorrect. The result was about 40, give or take a bit. Perhaps I should have said the word exactly in those circumstances, but that would not have reflected my confidence at the time. The exchange bothered me. I knew I was “about” right and understood the variance around our result, but I didn’t articulate it clearly. After some thought, I concluded that my understanding was inadequate, so I needed to try better understanding

At the time, I never questioned whether doing so would add value to my part in the business of making medicines. And thus began my time-consuming “apprenticeship” in biostatistics…. Read the article.