Articles on Statistics

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A p value of .05 has been the default ‘significance’ threshold for nearly 90 years … but is that standard too weak? Martin_Heigan

The problem with p values: how significant are they, really?

For researchers there’s a lot that turns on the p value, the number used to determine whether a result is statistically significant. The current consensus is that if p is less than .05, a study has reached…
Terry Speed plus maths and stats equals Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2013. WEHI

Is it possible to add statistics to science? You can count on it

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognise excellence in science and science teaching. This year, we asked three prizewinners to reflect on their work and factors that influenced their careers…
Professor Terence Paul Speed wins the coveted Prime Minister’s Prize for Science at age 70. Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/Bearcage

Maths whiz wins PM’s Science Prize for fight against cancer

Australian mathematician and statistician Terry Speed has been awarded the 2013 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for giving…
A tower of used books.

Google’s flu fail shows the problem with big data

When people talk about ‘big data’, there is an oft-quoted example: a proposed public health tool called Google Flu Trends. It has become something of a pin-up for the big data movement, but it might not…
Beautiful, but is it biased? Kamyar Adl

Hard Evidence: is Oxford biased against state students?

It’s autumn, and a new batch of students are starting university. Some are walking through the ancient gates of an Oxbridge college. Others are joining a redbrick university like Manchester or Bristol…
‘Hug a hoodie’ as David Cameron would say. ssoosay

Hard Evidence: has life got worse for young people?

Smoking, drinking and hanging around street corners is a common characterisation of a bored, unhealthy, unemployed youth. Life is getting worse for young people, we’re often led to believe, but what do…
Wrong about migrants, wrong about benefits, wrong about choice of headgear. Torsten Reimer (http://www.flickr.com/photos/torstenreimer)

British people are wrong about everything: here’s why

People are wildly wrong when we ask them about many aspects of life in Britain, as shown in a new survey by Ipsos MORI for the Royal Statistical Society and King’s College London. We think one in four…
Iain Duncan Smith wants to claw back your benefits. Ian Nicholson/PA

Welfare dependency: the use and abuse of statistics

The coalition government tells a story of “broken Britain”. Welfare spending is out of control. It is unaffordable. It is excessively generous. It undermines incentives because people are better off not…
How good will Bernard Tomic turn out to be? We can look to science for (some of) the answers. AAP Image/David Crosling

Numbers game: the Australian Open and predicting success

The Australian Open is upon us for another year, and the best tennis players in the world have assembled in Melbourne to compete for the right to call themselves “champion”. Much of the focus will be on…
Statistical significance doesn’t speak directly to the reproducibility of an experimental effect. Daniel Leininger

Putting psychological research to the test with the Reproducibility Project

An ambitious new project is attempting to replicate every single study published in 2008 in three leading academic psychology journals. It’s called the Reproducibility Project. As the name suggests, the…
Australians are drinking and smoking less but gaining weight, a survey found. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sorais

Drinking, smoking down but obesity rates up

Australians are drinking and smoking less but putting on weight like never before, a national survey by the Australian Bureau…
Basic statistical literacy is important for communicating and understanding medical risks. Janet Ramsden

Understanding risk statistics about breast cancer screening

An article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) today says a US charity “overstates the benefit of mammography and ignores harms altogether.” The charity’s questionable claim is that early detection…
Damned lies and statistics: the figures indicate a significant deficit of dwellings in Australia. But is the methodology sound? Capt' Gorgeous

Beware the rent-seeking organisation: don’t be dudded by housing data

One of the more interesting outcomes the 2011 Census produced was the figures concerning the housing market. The reason for this interest is how the results contrasted with the idea that Australia currently…
A small experiment won’t identify even a large effect as significant while a big experiment is likely to see even a worthless effect as statistically significant. 8 Eyes Photography Flickr

Mind your confidence interval: how statistics skew research results

“Most patients using the new analgesia reported significantly reduced pain.” Such research findings sound exciting because the word significant suggests important and large. But researchers often use the…
It takes more than a batting average to find the world’s best batsman. Composite image: public domain/AAP Image/Tony McDonough

Is Don, is good? How Tendulkar eclipses Bradman

Who is the greatest test batsman of all time? In a follow up to a recent paper I created a media furore by suggesting that India’s Sachin Tendulkar had eclipsed Australian great Sir Donald Bradman in terms…

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