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Epidemiology Humor

Poetry & Musical Theatre

This song was apparently sung after the annual dinner of the Australian and New Zealand equivalent to the Society for Social Medicine. One would need several ’pints’ on board to fit into Grainger's music. (Tune: "English Country Garden," Grainger)

We are epidemiologists, and what do we measure?

Age, Sex, Race and Social Class

Mortality, morbidity at home, work, and leisure

by sex, race and social class

What is Social Class, you say?

How much school, or how much pay -

or where you live, where you work or where you play,

or what others say you are, and what you are you will STAY

with your Age, Sex, Race and Social Class.


We are epidemiologists, we study populations

and their health-related states and the prevalence.

We register and classify, recount the health events

and we calculate their incidence.

"X-bar," "s," "t," we analyze, rates and risks we standardize,

over R-squared and Chi-squared and "p" we agonize,

and we seriously consider "alpha," "beta," sample size

and statistical results in the light of common sense.


We are epidemiologists, we come before commissions

to support each health initiative throughout the commonwealth.

We write papers for enquiries, and compile detailed submissions

to apply for project funds, and to study Public Health -

Risk factors- fats and smoke and son,

Case-controls are properly done

prospective cohort studies, any other way we can -

We are bold and we’re determined to woman and a man

to improve the nation's health, in the open or BY STEALTH.


We are epidemiologists, the huge data-sets we get

in these modern times we computerize.

Multivariate techniques are the norms that we set

as we model our hypotheses, and then analyze.

"Hardware first" - the cry is clear,

then "Software, user-friendly, please"

Mainframes and Networks and Modems and PC’s - 

but "Garbage in Garbage out" is the phrase we all fear

as we struggle with statistics, seeking HEALTH as the prize.



IEA Anthem (or "Epidemiology Together") tune: "An English Old Country Garden," Granger              


How many variables keep us in the job?

Age, Sex, Race and Social Class.

How do they try to break us down?

Age, Sex, Race and Social Class.


Multiple Regre -e –ssion

Chi- Square, correlation

P less than .001-

Unbiased and uncontrolled, no deviation here

We will not be compounded or broken down.


How many ladders can we climb?


To what heights can be aspire?

Chairman, Dean, Vice Chancellor.


Academic masturbation,

intellectual flagellation

these are among the games we play –

Theories and hypotheses, and learned

papers we produce

All on Age, Sex, Race and Social Class

The Mystery Deepens: NOTE:  We thought it was a little strange that these two songs were so much alike. We wrote to several people involved with IEA and with the Australasian Epidemiology Association to confirm that it did exist, and no one had heard of the song! Here are few excerpts from a letter return to us by one of our New Zealand informants:

"... I can't find anyone who knows of the song, or have signed it. However, I'm not sure if anyone             would admit to it if they had. They would also seem to be a problem with recall bias and that anyone who was drunk enough to sing the song would probably be too drunk to remember doing so... my own feeling is that the AEA probably stole (sorry, adapted) the song from the IEA. It is unlikely that anyone over here would've written it, since it contains complicated terms such as "alpha and beta". Actually, I have attended the last two IEA meetings and I'm sure that we didn't sing anything there either..."



I'm on a Committee

(sung to the tune of Suite Little Buttercup" in H.M.S. Pinafore)

                Oh give me your pity!

                I'm on a committee,

                which means that from morning to night


                We attend and amend,

                And contend and defend            

                Without a conclusion in sight.


                We confer and concur,

                We defer and demur

                And reiterate all of our thoughts.


                We revise the agenda

                With frequent addenda

                And consider a load of reports


                We compose and propose,

                We suppose and oppose

                And the points of procedure are fun;


                But though various notions

                Are brought up as motions

                There's terribly little gets done.


                We resolve and absolve

                But we never dissolve,

                Since it's out of the question for us


                To bring our committee

                To end like this ditty

                Which stops with a period - thus.

-          Leslie Lipson



Got no time for wild polemics

 I'm hung up on epidemics.


Death is all too familiar to the epidemiologist who studies it primarily as an abstract quantitative concept. Occasionally, death announces its presence closer to home, when a friend, colleague, or family member passes away. Just such an event - the death of Dr. Ralph Patrick, a professor of epidemiology at UNC/Chapel Hill - created the right combination of whatever it takes to put together the following poem, published in The Pharos 1986; 49:43.

Lament for an Epidemiologist

We both wondered

just how science progresses

in the scheme of things


Occasional conversation

heaped with unbridled conjecture

and a few externa laced with experience


I sat, barely listening

always questioning

offering hope without proof

and guesses against experience


He sat, always listening

answering problems with others

and those with their begotten


It's evolution, he'd say

(with a twinkle in his eye)


And now he's gone

but the flame is kindled,

‘tis the scheme of things.

Douglas Weed


Epi Haiku:

                Natural causes out of vogue

                Smoke or Salt or Sloth

                Have grave results.

                               - Contributed by Dan Cherkin


Epi’s Answers

                                                                                Epi’s claim

                                                                                To lasting fame

                                                                                Will come with

                                                                                Answers gained


                                                                                Not with Stealth

                                                                                Answers for

                                                                                Prevention, cure

                                                                                And lasting Health

                                                                                                       - B Ladene Larsen


Epi Haiku:

                p.i. slain by sharp rebuke

                death certificate reads,

                "Grants Funds Denied."

                                                Dan Cherkin


"Superior doctors prevent the disease,

                Mediocre doctors treat the disease before evident,

                Inferior doctors treat the full-blown disease.

– Huang Dee Nai-Ching, (2600 BC, First Chinese Medical Text)


Epi Haiku:

                Love the, prophylactically

                means never having to say

                you are sorry

Dan Cherkin


Old Epidemiologists Never Die

                Old Epidemiologists Never Die…

                but perpetuate the title

                for tho they do no longer shed

                we study bout the life they led

                which keeps the butter on our bread

                and our statistics vital    

-          Cheri Rolnick



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