Angela Saini, Stats + Stories, and more: Significance at RSS 2020

conference

We are just over two weeks away from RSS 2020, the Royal Statistical Society’s first annual conference to take place entirely online – and Significance has several sessions lined up to tell you about.

First, we are delighted to welcome Angela Saini, science journalist and author, who will deliver the 2020 Significance lecture, drawing on her most recent book, Superior: The Return of Race Science.

Saini’s talk will tackle “The Legacy of Scientific Racism”. In her abstract she notes that “the work of many of history's celebrated statisticians was rooted in eugenics and race science”.

The abstract reads: “Racial categories feel tangible, but as we know from genetics, anthropology and history, they are no more rooted in biology than they were hundreds of years ago when they were arbitrarily invented by European scientists affected by the politics of their time.”

Saini will explore “how modern-day researchers should understand and reflect on this legacy, and ensure that the mistakes of the past don't continue into the future”.

The lecture takes place on Tuesday 8 September at 4.10pm–5pm. A Q&A will follow the talk, and Significance readers who have read Saini’s book are welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ahead of time.

Next, we are pleased to be partnering with our friends at Stats + Stories to bring their podcast to RSS 2020.

On Monday 7 September at 2.35pm–3.55pm, conference delegates can join Stats + Stories host John Bailer for 80 minutes of debate and discussion on “the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics”. This session will feature as guests Tim Harford, author and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less, who will explain his “rules for thinking differently about numbers”, and Timandra Harkness, presenter, writer and comedian, who will talk about the misunderstanding of risk and the challenge of Covid-19.

Then, on Wednesday 9 September at 2.35pm–3.55pm, we’ll be celebrating the winner of the 2020 Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing in a special session co-organised with the RSS Young Statisticians Section (YSS). Delegates will hear a talk based on the winning article and take part in the discussion that follows to find out more about the competition and what’s required to craft a successful entry. Plus, award judge and RSS Stats Ambassador Joy Leahy shares advice on “how to make statistics fun, interesting and accessible for everyone”.

Also, on Wednesday 9 September at 1pm–2.20pm, Significance will be taking part in a session organised by YSS and our publisher Wiley to offer advice to researchers on writing journal and magazine articles and promoting their published work.

We hope to see you online for RSS 2020. For further details about the conference, see rss.org.uk/conference.