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

Read More →
Stats LifeThumbnail image for Science Grads Not Hot at Maths, But Why?

Research suggests science graduates are struggling with essential quantitative skills and science degree programs are to blame. Quantitative skills are the bread and butter of science. More than calculating right answers, quantitative skills are defined by applying mathematical and statistical reasoning to scientific and everyday problems.

They underpin Australian and international expectations for science graduates. But at two group of eight universities in Australia, 40% of final year science students reported low levels of confidence in quantitative skills. We know what students think, but what can they do?

Applying maths and stats reasoning

In the weeks before, 210 biosciences students were walking across the stage to receive their bachelor of science qualification and I asked them to answer 35 mathematical and statistical reasoning questions.

Read More →

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 through the end of October. To see the complete list of activities for 2014, please click here.

World of Statistics BlogThumbnail image for Royal Statistical Society Launches ‘Data Manifesto’

By Sara McDonnell

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) has published a "Data Manifesto" that it is launching to coincide with the United Kingdom party conference season. The manifesto has 10 recommendations and focuses on how it can improve data for policymaking, democracy and prosperity.

In the manifesto, the RSS calls for official statistics to be at the heart of policy debate and recommends that the Office for National Statistics and the wider Government Statistical Service be given adequate resources, as well as calling for greater investment in research, science and innovation.

Read More →
Significance MagazineThumbnail image for Clearing Up Confusion Between Correlation and Causation

Here’s an historical tidbit you may not be aware of. Between the years 1860 and 1940, as the number of Methodist ministers living in New England increased, so too did the amount of Cuban rum imported into Boston--and they both increased in an extremely similar way. Thus, Methodist ministers must have bought up lots of rum in that time period!

Actually no, that’s a silly conclusion to draw. What’s really going on is that both quantities - Methodist ministers and Cuban rum - were driven upwards by other factors, such as population growth.

In reaching that incorrect conclusion, we’ve made the far-too-common mistake of confusing correlation with causation.

Read More →

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 International Year of Statistics.

Stats2013AtSchool features an international statistics quiz for school-aged learners. This fun, online quiz is based on WinAtSchool, a competition which comprises multiple choice questions in

Read More →

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 I Solve Problems in Clinical Research

By Karen Kesler, Ph.D.

The thing I love most about statistics is that it helps solve problems. And working in clinical research, there are always problems to solve. In order to improve people’s health, we push the boundaries of questions we can answer, using fewer patients and more powerful analyses.

Biostatisticians in clinical research work with a team of other experts to design and analyze studies. Initially, biostatisticians help choose a design for the study, formalize the outcomes and hypotheses, and decide what analysis should be done.

Read More →