The October 2018 issue of Significance is out now in print and digital formats. In this issue, we explore the use of statistics in court. Judges and jurors are often asked to make sense of statistics. But data, probabilities and uncertainties are easily misunderstood or misused by those not trained to deal with them. Is education the answer? Or is greater oversight required? Nick Thieme considers the options for the US legal system.
Then, continuing the legal theme, Jonny Jacobsen takes us back to the 1990s, when British miners were fighting for compensation for diseases linked to coal dust exposure. Epidemiology and statistics were essential to the miners’ case, so defendants sought to cast doubt on the data – and it fell to Jonny’s father, the late Michael Jacobsen, to argue that the research was sound. With a high concentration of cases of 'black lung' disease recently reported among miners in southwest Virginia, this historical account is a timely tale.
The RSS has issued a strongly worded statement regarding the Department for Education's 'misuse' of statistics regarding government funding of education.
RSS President, Sir David Spiegelhalter, said: 'The Department for Education has had multiple warnings over the years about misusing statistics. For a Department that is in charge of the nation’s numerical skills, this is getting embarrassing. Ministers need to get a grip and ensure they use numbers in a trustworthy way.
'As the UK Statistics Authority has shown, the DfE has recently been using statistics selectively, in a way that can rightly be termed "spinning".'
The RSS conference poster exhibition gives early career researchers the opportunity to present their research at conference, and talk about their work with conference attendees.
Last year, we introduced a new rapid-fire talks section for those new to presenting their research, where each speaker had five-minutes to present their research. This section proved so popular we integrated it as a key part of the conference.