October 2018 issue of Significance just published

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  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 05 October 2018

The October 2018 issue (15:5) of Significance has just been published.

thumbnail image: October 2018 issue of Significance just published

Included in this issue:

Cover story: 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 in Statistics in Court: Truth, Challenge and Uncertainty.

For decades, human activities and decisions have been supported by algorithms. But as our machines have become more powerful, the algorithms have become more sophisticated – so much so that they are now in control of potentially life-changing decisions. Hannah Fry highlights some of the key discrepancies between the way humans see the world and the way algorithms do, in a piece based on her Significance lecture at the recent RSS 2018 Conference.

Has Britain changed its mind about Brexit? This is the question explored by John Curtice, probably the UK’s most famous pollster, during his keynote presentation at the RSS 2018 Conference. He examines whether Britain still backs Brexit, as his latest poll finds shifting attitudes, rising pessimism and a potential lead for Remain.

Letisha Smith – winner of the 2018 Award for Statistical Excellence in Early‐Career Writing – started the year with the resolve to eat smarter, with less food and less money going to waste. She turned to machine learning to help streamline her meal plans. This article is free to read for 1 month. Details of next year's competition will be announced in the February 2019 issue.

Diana Scarrott presents a brief history of the ‘brilliant statistician of the abolition movement’. The year 2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Zachery Macaulay, one of the most talented statisticians of the early nineteenth century and a man who applied his understanding of statistics in the fight to end slavery in the British colonies.

When studying the same object, different scientists and scientific instruments can produce widely divergent measurements. In ‘the Laplace distribution’ Marco Geraci and Mario Cortina Borja describe a probability distribution to model observations when heterogeneity and large errors are present.

When sick miners sued Britain’s National Coal Board in the 1990s, they did so on the basis of research that linked coal dust exposure to lung disease. But that research was soon under attack in court. Jonny Jacobsen reports on his father’s role justifying decades of work on coal miners’ lung disease during landmark litigation.

Ethics in statistics is about more than good practice. It extends to the communication of uncertainty and variation. Andrew Gelman presents five recommendations for dealing with fundamental dilemmas.

The RSS has launched its second ‘Statistic of the Year’ competition and nominations are now open for the statistic which best captures 2018 so far. Last year’s winning and highly commended statistics showcased a range of topics including death rates in the USA, declining rates of teenage pregnancy and the number of active phone connections worldwide. The winning statistic will be chosen in December by a panel of judges headed by RSS President Sir David Spiegelhalter. For more information on how to apply please visit the RSS website.

Significance has opened its archives for access by the public. The magazine's volumes 1-13 and volume 14 issues 1-5 from 2017 are available to read online, free of charge. Further, all magazine content will be made freely available one year after its initial publication. RSS and ASA members and subscribers will continue to enjoy exclusive access to the latest magazine content.

Significance is a bi-monthly magazine for anyone interested in statistics and the analysis and interpretation of data. Its aim is to communicate and demonstrate in an entertaining, thought provoking and non-technical way the practical use of statistics in all walks of life, and to show informatively and authoritatively how statistics benefit society. It is published on behalf of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

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