Four ideas to tackle ‘Fake News’

Written by Leighton Andrews on . Posted in Features

Professor Leighton Andrews looks at the factors that contribute to 'fake news' and argues that a multi-faceted approach is required to challenge them.

There has always been ‘fake news’, but in the age of the smartphone and platforms like Facebook and Google, it has taken on a new character. Democracy depends on open public debate, and while arguments, opinions and emotions form part of that debate, and facts may be disputed or interpreted in different ways for partisan purposes, the trust that underpins democratic decision- making, including the outcomes of elections, requires some consensus on what is generally regarded to be ‘true’.

What is a Royal Statistical Society Discussion Meeting?

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The Society's three academic journals (JRSS A, B and C) are some of the most highly cited journals in the discipline of statistics. Discussion meetings are a way of bringing some of the papers published in these journals to the wider membership. We explain how they work and how RSS fellows can get involved.

One of the great traditions of the Society is the presentation of papers for discussion at open meetings of the Society. Formerly called ‘Ordinary Meetings’, these give people the opportunity to present for debate the latest statistical developments and their views on contentious statistical issues in front of a lively audience. They also, through the subsequent publication of the paper and discussion in the Society’s journal, help to advance the subject and to inform the wider community.

In stats we trust – an interview with David Norgrove

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The RSS was delighted at the appointment of one of its fellows, Sir David Norgrove, to the position of UKSA chair back in March 2017 when Sir Andrew Dilnot stepped down. We spoke to David a couple of months after his appointment to ask him about his plans as he gets to grips with his role.

David is no stranger to the inner workings of government; he was former private secretary (1985-88) to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and after spending 16 years with Marks & Spencer he became the inaugural chair of the Pensions Regulator in 2005 and chaired the Low Pay Commission (2009-16).

Event report: Parliamentary Links Day 2017

Written by Daria Gromyko on . Posted in Features

This year I had the honour of being invited by Hetan Shah (RSS executive director) to the Parliamentary Links Day 2017 to represent the RSS as both a young statistician and an official statistics practitioner. This prestigious annual event is organised by the Royal Society of Biology and brings together the scientific community and members of parliament. RSS statistical ambassador and PhD student at MRC Biostatistics Unit in CambridgeSusan Connolly, also attended on behalf of the RSS. The theme of this year’s event was ‘UK science and global opportunities’.

Representatives from learned societies, academia and scientific professional bodies were welcomed to Parliament by Stephen Metcalfe MP, the former chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee. Speakers included John Kingman (chair designate of UK Research & Innovation), Jo Johnson (universities and science minister) and House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who all talked about their vision for UK science, the challenges we face and the way forward in addressing them. Themes touched upon were education and funding for scientific research, as well as the main theme of the day. 

David Spiegelhalter on being RSS president

Written by David Spiegelhalter on . Posted in Features

Our president writes about what the role has entailed for him since taking up his presidency at the beginning of 2017.

I’ve been RSS President for nearly six months, and it’s been a fascinating experience. Although I’ve been a member of the Society for around 40 years, I never really had much of an idea of all the things it got up to, and I’ve been amazed at the extraordinary breadth of activities, from the familiar planning of events, to preparation of submissions to parliamentary inquiries. 

From Bill to Royal Assent: Our work on the Digital Economy Act

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The RSS pressed for greater provision around data sharing for statistics and research in the Digital Economy Act as it passed through both Houses of Parliament. Here we explain how the RSS influenced Parliament in respect of this major and highly complex piece of legislation.

The RSS has played an important role in influencing the way new legislation relating to statistics and research has been formed in the UK’s new Digital Economy Act, which was finally rubber-stamped by Parliament on 27 April 2017.

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