The World of Statistics

What is Statistics?

When many people hear the word "statistics," they think of either sports-related numbers or the college class they took and barely passed. While statistics can be thought about in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you probably imagine.

So, what is statistics? Several informal definitions are offered in the book A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers by Gerald Hahn and Necip Doganaksoy:

  • The science of learning from (or making sense out of) data
  • The theory and methods of extracting information from observational data for solving real-world problems
  • The science of uncertainty
  • The quintessential interdisciplinary science
  • The art of telling a story with [numerical] data

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Stats LifeThumbnail image for Appreciating Statistics: It’s Not Rocket Science

The importance of public understanding of science, and of outreach activities more generally, is now widely accepted. Much research funding comes from public sources, so there’s an obligation to ensure that the money is well spent, and that people understand what they are getting in return. Beyond that, a well-informed population is necessary so that people understand the modern world and can make rational decisions about their lives.

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StatsLife is the news, opinion and resource website of the Royal Statistical Society.

World Population Clock

Below are The World of Statistics participating organization events and activities around the world that will be conducted during May. To see the complete list of activities for 2015, please click here.

World of Statistics BlogThumbnail image for Gaining a Better Understanding of Public Perception of Income Inequality

By Martine Zaïda

Statistics on income inequality are regularly produced by researchers and statistical offices around the world, and often make news headlines.

What remains unclear is how much inequality people perceive and what degree of inequality they regard as ‘ideal’ or ‘acceptable’. The latter (i.e., preferences for how income and other valuable resources are distributed) has a long history in social sciences (Bénabou and Tirole, 2006; Osberg and Smeeding, 2006), whereas the former (i.e., to what extent people have a good appreciation of income distributions in their country and of their position in it) has received less attention although it is—arguably—just as important.

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Significance MagazineThumbnail image for Was Anyone Right About the Pre-election Polls?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of blogs since the dismal performance of the pre-election polls. These had confidently and consistently predicted a rough tie in vote share between Labour and Conservative, but when the votes were counted the Conservatives had a 6.5% lead.

The pre-election estimates of vote-share led May 2015 to predict that Ed Miliband would be the next Prime Minister, and even the Nate Silver approved Electionforecast was predicting only a small Conservative lead in seats, which could be easily outweighed by a formal or informal coalition.

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Significance is a publication of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

Census at School

Challenge Yourself Today!

We are proud to introduce Stats2013AtSchool—a Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education and American Statistical Association special project expressly designed for schools and students worldwide in support of The World of Statistics.

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Census at School is a free, web-based classroom project that engages primary and secondary school students in statistical problemsolving using their own data. This international educational initiative, launched in 2000 in the United Kingdom by the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education, has programs operating in several countries.

Click here to view the Census at School program in your country or others around the world.

Statistician Job of the WeekThumbnail image for Katharina Schüller, Founder STAT-UP Statistical Consulting

By Ansgar Seyfferth

My colleague, Katharina Schüller, founded STAT-UP Statistical Consulting in 2003, when she was still studying statistics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. She was awarded a scholarship to the Bavarian Elite Akademie in 2004 as one of Bavaria’s 30 best students, graduated in 2005, and received a participation award for the 2nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2006.

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