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ISI Committee on the Public Voice of Statistics

 

One of the strategic goals for the ISI is to strengthen and extend the public voice of statistics and statisticians. The ISI Council has therefore approved a new committee to implement this goal. A variety of areas of importance have been identified.

 

Voice in the scientific community

Statisticians have not been well represented in the international scientific organizations. For example, there has not been any statistical representation in the International Science Council (ISC), the main international body of scientific organizations. This council impacts international action on issues of major scientific and public importance. To give the statistical community a stronger voice in this context, the ISI is now an affiliate member of the ISC.

 

Voice in education

Many primary and secondary students have little understanding of what a statistician does. The International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) is a project initiated by the ISI association IASE. ISLP contributes to promoting statistical literacy across the world, among young and adults, in all walks of life, by providing an online repository of international resources and news in Statistical Literacy, international activities to promote the resources and the individuals and institutions behind them, and outreach activities to increase awareness.

The International Data Science in Schools Project (IDSSP)  supported by ACM, ASA, RSS, SSC, SSA, ISI and NZSA, is aiming to enhance the capability of all people to learn from data and make decisions in the presence of uncertainty, and inspire many more students towards further study of data science, in turn dramatically increasing the flow of data-science-capable specialists into the workforce.

 

Voice in public

Traditionally, science communication and public education has involved one or more scientists presenting to groups of students or members of the general public in outreach lectures. While such approaches certainly have value, they reach a limited audience that is generally interested in science. They are also typically very local in nature. In order to reach a general audience we need to work on reaching the providers of information. One issue we need to work on worldwide is to help journalists understand statistics. We will work with the new committee on Communicating Statistics and Data Science to develop half- and full-day courses in statistical thinking for journalists and other communicators.

Podcasts, blogs and YouTube channels are common (and often effective) ways to connect statistical ideas to a general audience. We are developing a page of links to valuable resources of this kind in different languages.

 

Promoting best practices

ISI supports the move towards open data, to the extent possible, and towards reproducible research. We will work with the ISI Publications committee to ensure the all journals of the Institute and its Associations meed the highest standards of data availability and reproducible research.

Recently there has been a lot of debate regarding the use and misuse of statistics in different scientific areas. In particular, the ubiquitous (and often incorrect) use of P-values has been subject to much discussion. We are developing a web page with links to different voices in this debate.

 

Steering committee

Peter Guttorp, USA/Norway (Chair)
Nancy Garcia, Brazil
Andrew Gelman, USA
Bronwyn Harch, Australia
Denise Lievesley, UK
Victor Panaretos, Switzerland

 

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