Poet and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska — that's her, right above — died just a few years ago at 88 years old. I have included this poem in my data analysis classes for a few years because: (a) I love poetry; (b) it has statistics; and (c) as a social psychologist, I believe it summarizes human nature wonderfully.

A Contribution to Statistics

Out of a hundred people…

those who always know better:

fifty-two

doubting every step:

nearly all the rest

glad to lend a hand

if it doesn’t take too long:

as high as forty-nine

always good

because they can't be otherwise:

four, well maybe five

able to admire without envy:

eighteen

suffering illusions

induced by fleeting youth:

sixty, give or take a few

not to be taken lightly:

forty and four

living in constant fear

of someone or something:

seventy-seven

capable of happiness:

twenty-something tops

harmless singly, savage in crowds:

half at least

cruel

when forced by circumstances:

better not to know

even ballpark figures

wise after the fact:

just a couple more

than wise before it

taking only things from life:

thirty

(I wish I were wrong)

hunched in pain

no flashlight in the dark:

eighty-three

sooner or later

righteous:

thirty-five, which is a lot

righteous

and understanding:

three

worthy of compassion:

ninety-nine

mortal:

a hundred out of a hundred.

thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

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