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Post-truth, post-Brexit statistics

The recent political coming and goings (the EU referendum, the arrival of a new Prime Minster and Labour’s travails) has seen a period of unusual attitudes to facts. More people seemingly want information and yet the (accurate) use of facts by politicians, some elements of the media and quite a few people has fallen to new lows. Experts are being rubbished, institutions’ reputations are being damaged, and the media is accused of being biased, prompting discussion of a post-truth society. There is much talk of a fractured Britain as technology and globalisation have hastened economic disruption affecting many livelihoods.

This note sets out a few steps – go local, kill the average, be open, do good research, un-spin and tell good stories – that the statistics world might take to help people reconnect with reality and help policy makers understand what might be needed if we are to establish a more sensible approach to debate and policy. It has much in common with the Data Manifesto published by the Royal Statistical Society two years ago.  Continue reading Post-truth, post-Brexit statistics

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More on big data ….. data linkage

Here’s a bit more on the potential of big data and administrative data, in particular data linkage, in the work of national statistical agencies. I am prompted by a journal landing on the door step in which leading statisticians set out the case for the use of big data. It has given me a renewed sense of optimism that there could be innovative and better statistics to come even if budgets are under threat and traditional methods are suffering.  Continue reading More on big data ….. data linkage

Too many statistics? The Guardian’s view

I can hardly agree with The Guardian’s editorial today: “The Guardian view on statistics in politics: over-counting“.

Part of it is just what one might expect from a newspaper: wordsmiths rant against things they tend not to get, like evidence (all too often it has ruined a great story!), big data and “computers”. Add in some cheap shots along the lines of lies, damned lies ……… and you’re done. A good read it is.

But it also makes two very valid points. Continue reading Too many statistics? The Guardian’s view