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# Statistics

## Clearing up confusion between correlation and causation

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? Today we look at the dangers of making a link between unrelated results. Here’s an…

## Goals galore, but stats show defenders are holding up at World Cup 2014

The 2014 World Cup has been celebrated for the number of exciting, high-scoring matches it’s given us. It started with four goals in the opening game as Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1. Then, who could forget…

## Statistics is more than a numbers game – it underpins all sciences

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…

## Group stats show Holland will win the World Cup, but the runners up might surprise you

It’s World Cup crunch time. The group stages are over and it will be knockout games to the final from here on in. From the performances we’ve seen so far, there are numerous contenders for the title. Brazil…

## Do winning teams at the World Cup run further and faster?

Tracking technology using video or GPS chips have transformed the ability of coaches in elite team sports to monitor the physical contributions of players in games. This type of data is usually highly…

## Spain goes out: but the stats suggest it’s not game over yet for ‘tiki-taka’ football

Spain is out of the World Cup. They have a final consolation game against Australia, who were on the wrong end of a thrilling 3-2 defeat to Netherlands, but the biggest upset is the exit of the cup holders…

## World Cup 2014 predictions: who will take the title?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hard-core football nut, a once-every-four-years fan or even a psychic animal – most of us speculate on the winner of the World Cup. The 2014 competition is held in Brazil…

## Some stats methods are like Rick Astley – best left in the 1980s

It’s an exciting time to be doing statistics. You heard me – statistics: exciting. It often gets a bad rap, but stats is after all at the business end of the research process. When I’ve collaborated on…

## Hard Evidence: is the UK shunned at Eurovision?

It’s that time of the year again. One of the biggest events in Europe’s (and the world’s) cultural calendar, the Eurovision song contest is legendary. The attention paid to this bizarre show is enormous…

## Hard Evidence: does the public sector pay better?

The government’s decision to reject the recommended 1% rise in NHS salaries has been met with “contempt” by the unions. The issue of public sector pay has become highly contentious, with each side arguing…

## Reports of a blood test for Alzheimer’s have yet to show convincing evidence

The media are always fascinated by medical “breakthrough” stories: tales of hope that scientists have found cures for our most threatening diseases and tales of woe that our lifestyles are doing us harm…

## Here be dragons? China’s economic data may not be all bad

The world’s second-largest economy has become the second-most watched and yet investors, politicians and economists are never quite clear what it is they’re looking at. China’s premier, Li Keqiang, is…

## Too soon to celebrate: a flawed obsession with economic stats

So the International Monetary Fund has revised its economic growth forecast for the UK upwards. It now expects 2.4% growth in the UK this year, up from the 1.9% they predicted a few months back. Cue celebratory…

## Big data and big business: it’s what you do with it that matters

The crucial thing about “big data” is the data. “Big” is relative, and while size often matters, real disruption can come from data of any size. This is not a new idea, being several hundred years old…

## Give p a chance: significance testing is misunderstood

Yesterday’s article by Geoff Cumming, based on a very recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Science paper, argued that “null hypothesis significance tests” (NHST) are flawed – and he is correct…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## Danger, you’re at serious risk of … no, sorry, it’s all relative

We assess risk every day. But very few of us receive any formal training in the requisite mathematics and statistics, and, partly as a result, poor decisions are made, both by individuals and governmental…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## 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…

## Everything you need to know about statistics (but were afraid to ask)

Does the thought of p-values and regressions make you break out in a cold sweat? Never fear – read on for answers to some of those burning statistical questions that keep you up 87.9% of the night. What…

## Incoming! What are the odds you’ll get hit by NASA’s falling satellite?

You might want to look up. Or maybe not. At some point between now and Saturday, a 6.5 tonne, bus-sized NASA satellite will burst through Earth’s atmosphere, breaking into fiery chunks that could land…

## The problem with our economic data addiction

People who work in business and finance are obsessed with economic data releases – GDP growth figures, unemployment rates, trade statistics, and so on. Business journalists, investors, financial analysts…

## 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…

## 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…

## Fear the key incentive to slip, slop, slap

Fear of developing skin cancer is one of the stronger motives for people to use sunscreen, according to new US research…

## UK public distrusts statistics

A study found that politicians who used statistics were viewed as less trustworthy to the UK public. People reported they…

## Stats expert predicts finals results

With the AFL finals starting tonight, Swinburne University statistics professor Stephen Clarke has predicted which teams…

## Young men are more likely to sleep on the road

Young men are more likely to fall asleep while driving than their older counterparts. A Monash University study looked at…

## The Rugby World Cup is decided: The All Blacks are invincible

New Zealand’s home advantage will ensure they are the winners of the Rugby World Cup. With an unbeaten record of eleven Tri-Nations…