Dear BUGS Users,
"[...] where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise."
Monitoring changes in medical statistical science in recent years we might
observe that there is undoubtedly one issue that comes to the forefront and it
is the Bayesian methodology concentrated around a research project of BUGS.
!I would like to dedicate this short letter to Professor David Spiegelhalter and
his co-workers – those whose work made it possible for me to reach high and
succeed in medical statistics!
I have been a reader of the BUGS users' mailbox for a couple years and to my
surprise I have not noticed even one word of gratitude for what Professor
Spiegelhalter had done for all of us – the BUGS users. Neither have I noticed
appreciation of the effort of other project authors who provided us a free of
charge program. Yet many of us, the BUGS users, have achieved considerable
professional research experience and have often built our academic career
thanks to this project; not to mention those who made a fortune using BUGS. How
limiting is thus our perception if we quote only the BUGS project itself
forgetting about people who stand behind it.
"A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers again."
Probably we ourselves do not appreciate that BUGS is not a software but an
enormous educational and research project that goal is to open our minds to new
alternative exploration options while BUGS itself becomes a gate to a great
academic adventure. What is also important is the fact that while being a BUGS
user, one is never alone. BUGS is, therefore, an interpersonal world-wide
platform to co-operate, to argue and to reach consensus.
"The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires."
(William Arthur Ward)
What do we owe to BUGS? I believe – a great deal. First of all, it is our
scientific progress and success in the academic career. Second of all, it is
learning the new knowledge on the basis of clearly explained academic problems,
which constitutes the foundation of our own research. Furthermore, it is a close
contact with modern statistics. But most of all, it is the inspiration that
leads us to high quality scientific performance that is noticed and appreciated
and provides us with a real chance to publish in renown journals.
"One mark of a great teacher is
the ability to lead students out
to new places where even the educator
has never been."
It is impossible to enumerate here all other benefits stemming from being
familiar with and applying BUGS in research. I believe positive effects
resulting from the exploration of the method for research and academic purposes
probably have surpassed the expectations of their authors. Referring to my own
experience I can add that using BUGS I was able to achieve a professorial
degree ('habilitation'), which is a great honour in the countries acknowledging
this academic degree. I had not imagined BUGS would take me that far. To my mind
I am only one of many who have accomplished their goals thanks to using the
method – and thanks to the those who invented it.
"As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that
the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them."
(John Fitzgerald Kennedy)
Personally, I see great deficiency in verbal expression of gratitude to these
academic Masters. However, in these considerations it is not my intention to
erect a monument for the people during their lifetime. Nevertheless, we should
not allow a symbol of the modern academic thought, people who influence the
scientific progress of the humankind, to be dimly perceived and be exploited
owing to our short-sightedness and undoubtedly to our selfish reasons.
Andrzej Tukiendorf, Assos. Prof.,
([log in to unmask])
Opole University of Technology
ul. Mikolajczyka 5, 45271 Opole, POLAND,
Cardiff Research Consortium, The MediCentre
Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4UJ, UK.
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