Latest issue of Significance now available


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 27 August 2013

The August 2013 issue of Significance is now available to read online. As usual, there is something for everyone in the issue, including:

James McInerney, Alex Rogers and Nicholas R Jennings explore an imaginative solution to getting aid to the countryside in their article, ‘Bus, bike and random journeys: Crowdsourcing aid distribution in Ivory Coast’. They propose a new method that uses the natural movements of local people to distribute packages and ask if it can really work.

thumbnail image: Latest issue of Significance now available

What does Evel Knievel (featured on the cover) have to do with statistics? Albert Mannes and Dan Moore outline the ways in which humans are overconfident in their judgments in ‘I know I’m right! A behavioural view of overconfidence’. Evel’s highly publicised belief that he could jump a rocket-powered motorbike over the Snake River Canyon in 1974 is certainly an example of this. Albert and Dan describe three forms of overconfidence that occur with some frequency in modern life, and discuss the factors which contribute to them, finally summarising some aids to judgement which have been shown to reduce overconfidence.

Ben Smith and Jadrian Wooten, two PhD candidates at Washington State University, ask whether we demand accuracy or confidence from media pundits in their article ‘Pundits: The confidence trick’.

David Walker and Kaiser Fung argue for and against statistics joining big business and big data in their “love fest” in ‘Big data and big business: Should statisticians join in?’.

In his article, ‘Misgivings about smart giving’, Michael A Lewis discusses some of the vexing statistical issues that arise when trying to apply the relentless monetisation approach to charitable decision-making. This stems from ‘The Robin Hood Rules for Smart Giving’, a recently published book by Michael M Weinstein and Ralph M Bradburd in which the authors consider how people should allocate their money to not-for-profit organisations.

Ruth Thurstan reveals what historical records can tell us about marine populations today in her article, ‘Fishing up the past’. With records used for models typically spanning just 20-40 years, it makes it difficult to estimate how many fish there used to be, thus limiting our understanding of how fish abundance has altered. Until recently, scientists and resource managers have often disregarded such data. However, sometimes historical data may be the only data that we have.

Finally, read the winning entry of the Significance Young Writers Competition, ‘GUESTimation: Breaking the deadlock on wedding guest lists', in which Damjan Vukcevic, postdoctoral researcher at the Murdoch Childrens Institute (Melbourne, Australia), explains how he created a probability model to help with the tricky business of who to invite to his wedding.

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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Published features on are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.