ICOTS keynote presentations

Presented at: 12 September 2022; 00:00 UTC

Webinar duration: 0 minutes


The Joy of Data: Communicating the Importance and Excitement of Statistics

Sir David Spiegelhalter | Professor, Churchill College, Cambridge

The pandemic has demonstrated how important data becomes at a time of crisis. But good data is essential whenever we are faced we complex questions about what is going on in society. I will tell some stories from experience, from investigating whether a serial murderer could have been caught earlier, to measuring sexual behaviour and communicating about Covid, to show that statistical and data science are vital skills in the modern world.

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Statistics in the media: learning and teaching

Thomas Lumley | Professor, University of Auckland

Statistical misinterpretations in the mass media are important for their impact on public knowledge, but they are also informative as to what topics journalists and readers understand or don't understand. StatsChat (statschat.org.nz) is the blog of the University of Auckland Department of Statistics, centered around statistics in the media. The blog was started in 2013, aiming to raise the public profile of the department and to provide useful examples for statistics teachers. Somewhat unexpectedly, journalists have also become an important audience. I had expected the main topics to be uncertainty and confounding; these do come up, but in fact the use of appropriate denominators has been the most important statistical issue. Because I work in medical statistics, I have also written quite a few posts about the over-interpretation of biomedical and health research in the news, and whether this is attributable to reporters or to researchers and their public relations offices (it’s a mixture). These posts pursue the statistician’s role of being precise about what questions are actually being asked and answered using the data. In this presentation, I will explore what statistics in the media says about public understanding of statistics and science, and what the success of the blog says about interest in these topics.

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Life, the universe, and everything: a discussion about the changing nature of data, its sources, its uses and what this might mean for statistics

Steve MacFeely | World Health Organization (WHO), Division for Data and Analytics

Data, the single word that defines our age. Today, data have assumed a new importance for economies and societies. They are at the heart of almost every activity, a ubiquitous globalized resource, easily shared, duplicated, traded and exchanged. Data transcend borders, challenge national sovereignty and are increasingly being thought of as a new form of capital. Data are used for the development of products and services that generate value, and are key building blocks of communications, government, social media, the cloud, blockchain, the internet of things and crypto-currencies.

This new importance of data, combined with its redefinition to include text, images and sound, and its many new sources raises many important questions for statistics. Not least, what is the relationship between statistics and data science? Are existing data and statistical quality frameworks adequate? Are university courses preparing students for this new world? Do we need a global data compact to regulate this super complex environment? These are some of the questions explored.

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Professional Ethics and Statistical Education

Walter J. Radermacher | Prof. Dr., Ludwig-Maximilians-University

Good statistics is more than sound methodology and modern technology. For statistical information to be of high quality and 'fit for purpose', there needs to be a common language and sufficient literacy for both, statisticians and users, and not least an ethical foundation of professional values. Statisticians work within a variety of economic, cultural, legal and political settings, each of which influences the emphasis and focus of statistical inquiry. They also work within one of several different branches of their discipline, each involving its own techniques and procedures and, possibly, its own ethical approach. This makes it all the more important to provide statisticians with an ethical compass to help them perform their work in a reasonable way. The aim of the ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics is to enable the statistician's individual ethical judgments and decisions to be informed by shared values and experience, rather than by rigid rules imposed by the profession. Shared professional values of this Declaration are Respect, Professionalism, Truthfulness and Integrity.

Obviously, this raises the question of how these principles can be 'lived' and, above all, how statistical literacy, in which this framework of values is understood as an important component of professional competences, can be achieved in practice. For scientific research and training, this means, for example, educating students to become responsible professionals, reflectively questioning the wider context of science and scientific progress, and helping to ensure that new technologies are shaped in a way that is compatible with ethical principles from the outset.

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Invite your students' brains to come to the classroom too / Convide o cérebro dos seus estudantes para também vir à sala de aula

Marcos Magalhães | University of Sao Paulo

The understanding of the basic ideas of Statistics by society is an important element for citizenship and, in this sense, the school plays a central role. Learning at different school levels depends on the full involvement of students in classroom activities, which remains an important challenge to be faced. In particular, this challenge is present in the teaching of Statistics content by the Mathematics teacher in basic education and also in basic Statistics courses in the various university careers. Although grade levels have different contexts, there are similar initiatives that teachers can develop to seek effective student engagement. In this presentation, we discuss some recommendations from the specialized literature and describe initiatives that have been developed in disciplines under my responsibility. So far, we've used activities to try to connect students' brains with the classroom environment. Would anyone prefer to change that and bet on the wide availability of the “brainphone”?

A compreensão das ideias básicas da Estatística pela sociedade é um elemento importante para a cidadania e, nesse sentido, a escola desempenha um papel central. A aprendizagem nos diferentes níveis escolares depende do pleno envolvimento dos alunos nas atividades em sala de aula, o que continua sendo um importante desafio a ser enfrentado. Em particular, esse desafio está presente no ensino de conteúdos de Estatística pelo professor de Matemática na educação básica e também nos cursos básicos de Estatística nas diversas carreiras universitárias. Embora os níveis de ensino tenham contextos diferentes, existem iniciativas semelhantes que os professores podem desenvolver para buscar o envolvimento efetivo dos alunos. Nesta apresentação, discutimos algumas recomendações da literatura especializada e descrevemos iniciativas que vêm sendo desenvolvidas em disciplinas sob minha responsabilidade. Até agora, usamos atividades para tentar conectar o cérebro dos alunos com o ambiente da sala de aula. Será que alguém prefere mudar isso e apostar numa ampla disponibilidade do “cérebrofone”?

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