A Novel for Biostatisticians

Don Delillo’s White Noise is an important book for biostatisticians. This passage in particular is one reason why I think this:


This is the nature of modern death. It has a life independent of us. It is growing in prestige and dimension. It has a sweep it never had before. We study it objectively. We can predicts its appearance, trace its path in the body. We can take cross-section pictures of it, tapes its tremors and waves. We’ve never been so close to it, so familiar with its habits and attitudes. We know it intimately. But it continues to grow, to acquire breadth and scope, new outlets, new passages and means. The more we learn, the more it grows. Is this some law of physics? Every advance in knowledge and technique is matched by a new kind of death, a new strain. Death adapts, like a viral agent. Is it a law of nature? Or some private superstition of mine? I sense that the dead are closer to us than ever. I sense that we inhabit the same air as the dead. Remember Lao Tse. ‘There is no difference between the quick and the dead. They are one channel of vitality.’ He said this six hundred years before Christ. It is true once again, perhaps more true than ever.