December issue of Significance out now


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 11 December 2015
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of Wiley

The December issue of Significance magazine includes topical features and articles focusing on the latest issues in the world of statistics.

In this month’s “In Brief” section:

  • MH17 report identifies “blind spot in risk assessment”.
  • Hans Rosling on the importance of “factfulness”.
  • Modelling the impact of malaria control. England's plastic bag tax: will it work?
  • Rethinking the population pyramid.
  • Statistical support for exoplanet discovery. What are the chances of World War III breaking out this century?

thumbnail image: December issue of Significance out now


The Volkswagen scandal: Deception, driving and deaths
News that a major car manufacturer had used “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests led many to wonder how many deaths may have been caused by excess pollutants. But as Jenna R. Krall and Roger D. Peng explain, such calculations are riddled with uncertainties.

“The idea of using statistics to think about individuals is quite strange”
When life insurers set out to make risks, they created “statistical individuals” in the process. Brian Tarran interviews historian Dan Bouk about his new book, How Our Days Became Numbered.

Randomised trials for the Fitbit generation
Data from activity trackers and mobile phones can be used to craft personalised health interventions. But measuring the efficacy of these “treatments” requires a rethink of the traditional randomised trial. By Walter Dempsey, Peng Liao, Pedja Klasnja, Inbal Nahum-Shani and Susan A. Murphy.

From couch potato to marathon runner
Kaylea Haynes, a PhD student in statistics at Lancaster University, applies changepoint analysis to Fitbit data to optimise her exercise regime.

Ebola: Lessons from a human tragedy
The West African Ebola outbreak brought death and disruption on an unprecedented scale. But in its wake comes new knowledge to help model and respond to future epidemics. Maimuna Majumder reports.

A stopping rule for scholastic American football?
Michael Wininger looks to reduce the risk of injury for high school and college football players with a rule change inspired by clinical trials.

Modelling calls and effects
“All our agents are busy” is a phrase call centre customers dread. But basic statistical models can help customer service managers ensure staff supply meets caller demand. Andrew Zelin explains.

In practice

Promiscuous publication
Statisticians “get to play in everyone's back yard”, said John Tukey – and they get to publish in other people's journals as well. Martin Bland takes a light-hearted look at the publication records of prominent statisticians.

Is probability easier now than in 1560?
An old problem still presents difficulties, writes Stephen M. Stigler.

Significance magazine has opened its 10-year archives for access by the public. The magazine's volumes 1-10 are available to read, free of charge. Further, all magazine content will be made freely available one year after its initial publication. Editor Brian Tarran believes free access will demonstrate the importance of statistics and the contributions it makes in all areas of life. Royal Statistical Society 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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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.