29 Apr 2024 14:00

Trustworthy Communication of Statistical Evidence: What It Is, and How We Can Get More of It

Aula 6A San Giobbe (Economic Campus)

Sir David Spiegelhalter, University of Cambridge

The recent pandemic has emphasized the key role played by evidence based on data. But how do we decide whether to trust all the claims that are made, whether in mainstream or social media? Are the numbers being used to manipulate us? What questions should we ask?
I will look at the way that statistics can be used to try and persuade audiences to think or act in a certain way, and contrast this with efforts to make communication 'trustworthy', by presenting balanced information that seeks to inform rather than persuade.
I will also talk about my own experience to communicate statistics in the media, including both successes and embarrassing disasters.

Bio Sketch:
Sir David Spiegelhalter is emeritus Professor of Statistics in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge. Professor Spiegelhalter is a highly cited researcher who has made important contributions to the methodology and applications of statistics, in particular Bayesian methods in clinical trials, health technology assessment and drug safety. He was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics, was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2017-2018) and became a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority in 2020. He was awarded the prestigious Guy Medal in Gold of the Royal Statistical Society in 2022, having previously also received the silver and bronze Guy medals in 1994 and 1985.
In addition to his important scientific contributions, Professor Spiegelhalter has worked to improve the way that statistical evidence is used by health professionals, patients, lawyers and judges, media and policy-makers. He advises organizations and government agencies on risk communication and is a regular media commentator on statistical issues, with a particular focus on communicating uncertainty. He presented the BBC4 documentaries “Tails You Win: The Science of Chance” and the award-winning “Climate Change by Numbers” and the podcast “Risky Talk” about problems of communicating numbers well in diVerent contexts from genetics and nutrition to climate change and immigration.
Professor Spiegelhalter has also been a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and the World Anti-Doping Agency. He has contributed to many formal investigations, including the inquiries into Bristol children’s heart surgery, murders by serial killer Harold Shipman and the breast implant scandal.
Professor Spiegelhalter wrote several scientific manuals, textbooks and popular books. His best-selling book, “The Art of Statistics”, was published in March 2019.

The seminar is organized under the aegis of ASSI (Alleanza delle Scuole Superiori d’Ateneo).


The event will be held in English

Organized by

Cristiano Varin e il Collegio Internazionale di Ca' Foscari


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