RSS getstats campaign introduces new chair


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 13 March 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStock Photo

The Royal Statistical Society has announced the appointment of a new chair for their getstats campaign, set up to improve statistical literacy and people’s understanding of statistics in their every-day lives. Their new chair will be Robert Chote, Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

thumbnail image: RSS getstats campaign introduces new chair

Mr Chote will take over duties from RSS President John Pullinger who took up his post in January, so that he is able to devote more time to his presidential duties. According to getstats (7th March 2013), Mr Chote was a journalist for the Independent, an advisor to senior management at the International Monetary Fund and the former Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

When the campaign sent out a short statistical test to Parliament, 3 out of 5 MPs answered incorrectly. When MPs were questioned as whether or not they use official statistics when preparing their policies and speeches, 'only 17% of Conservative respondents agreed, as did 30% of the Labour members who took part.' John Pullinger spoke to in January about these results. “The media had a bit of fun with MPs but what they did not make clear was that a similar survey that was sent out to the general public with very similar results, which in some ways should be reassuring as the MPs are our representatives. The problem that the getstats campaign highlighted was that there is terribly limited statistical incompetence amongst everybody."

“My day job is working with MPs all the time and they are voracious users of statistical information and my team are busy answering their statistical queries every day. The service in highest demand from us to MPs is in providing statistical answers and this has increased greatly, certainly with this current government since 2010. The demand is there, the challenge is to give people the confidence to deal with these statistics, particularly those MPs and general public alike, who have done so little mathematics and statistics at school or university. So few people do anything in maths and stats after the age of 16 in the UK and we have to fix that and until we fix that, not just MPs but everybody will struggle throughout the country.”

For the full interview with John Pullinger, please visit here.

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