Can we trust the statistics in the media?

Join Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE, online or in person, for the 2022 Peter Lindsay Lecture.

We have limited in-person spaces available so please ensure you register in advance.

Abstract

 The current pandemic has emphasised the key role that statistics play in understanding what is going on in the world.  But how do we decide whether to trust the numbers that get put in front of us?  Are they being used to inform or persuade us? Using a wide range of examples, I will look at the way that statistics can be used to try and persuade audiences to think or act in a certain way, contrast this with efforts to make communication ‘trustworthy’, and list the questions that you should ask whenever you are presented with claims based on numbers.

 

Biography

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE is Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. The Centre aims to improve the way that statistical evidence is used by health professionals, patients, lawyers and judges, media and policy-makers.  He has been very busy over the COVID crisis.  He presented the BBC4 documentaries “Tails you Win: the Science of Chance”, the award-winning “Climate Change by Numbers”, and in 2011 came 7th in an episode of BBC1’s Winter Wipeout.  His bestselling book, The Art of Statistics, was published in March 2019, and Covid by Numbers came out in September 2021.  

He was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics, was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2017-2018), and became a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority in 2020.   He is @d_spiegel on Twitter, and his home page is http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~david/

Getting here