Science

Why 2020 is a "magic year"

2020

Let me tell you something: 2020 is a magic year. But what do I mean by that? To explain, grab a calculator and follow these instructions.

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In conversation with... Michael Wallace

podcast logo

Following our forays into podcasting last year, in 2020 we plan to bring you more audio interviews with a selection of people doing fantastic and fascinating work in the field of statistics and data science. And our first interview is with Michael Wallace, author of our February 2020 cover story on measurement error, "Analysis in an imperfect world".

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Book review: Superior, by Angela D. Saini

Superior book cover

“The key to understanding the meaning of race is understanding power,” writes Angela D. Saini. Her new book, Superior, explores the roots of “race science” in the modern world. Though it mines human pre-history, it hinges around the major ideological warfare of the 20th century – a time when racial experiments within science were enthusiastically supported in Nazi Germany in its pursuit of policies of “racial hygiene”.

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Statistics in court: Incorrect probabilities

US courtroom

Although both the law and statistical theory have foundations that rest on formal rules and principles, courts can badly misapply statistical evidence and arguments. In some cases, even when arriving at a correct decision, the courts can accept or give an explanation that is inaccurate and unsound. In other cases, the misuse of statistics has led to false convictions and years of jail time for crimes not committed by the accused.

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Probably maybe: Ice cream variation

ice cream cones

The saying goes that “probabilities are counter-intuitive”. A simple problem might appear to have a straightforward answer at first glance, but only do we later learn, through careful explanation, that our intuition has been subverted. Indeed, human intuition is rarely to be trusted when it comes to making probabilistic judgments, especially under time pressure. Even those trained in statistics, like most readers of Significance, can fall prey to cognitive biases when making snap decisions.

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