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Stats + Stories

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Statistics need Stories to give them meaning. Stories need Statistics to give them credibility. Every Thursday John Bailer, Richard Campbell and Rosemary Pennington get together with a new, interesting guest to bring you the Statistics behind the Stories and the Stories behind the Statistics.
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Our modern understanding of big data and the increasingly sophisticated tools we have for analyzing them have opened up whole new worlds for exploration. And, sometimes, whole new avenues for the misuse of data, which has led some to wonder who should be responsible or held accountable for data misuse or data bias? That’s the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with Charna Parkey. Dr. Charna Parkey is a lead data scientist at Kaskada, where she works on the team to deliver a commercially available data platform for machine learning. Her interests include analysis of different language patterns as well as using data science to combat systemic oppression. She has over 15 years’ experience in enterprise data science and adaptive algorithms in the defense and startup tech sectors and has worked with dozens of Fortune 500 companies in her work as a data scientist.
It’s been a little over a year of lockdowns, curfews, online schooling, mask wearing, worry and grief. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it an experience of collective trauma that researchers will be studying for years to come. The British Academy has launched one such study COVID119 and Society: Shaping the COVID Decade. That’s the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Dr. Molly Morgan Jones. Dr. Molly Morgan Jones is the Director of Policy at The British Academy. She oversees all the Academy’s policy work and activities, on topics ranging from how the humanities and social sciences can shape a post-pandemic future, to purposeful business, cohesive societies, policies supporting childhood, and higher education and skills policy. Prior to joining the Academy, she worked at RAND Europe, an independent policy research institute, where she specialized in research and innovation policy as well as worked for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Data science is becoming an ever more visible and important part of our lives with universities around the US, working to create or strengthen data science programs. At the same time there's a growing recognition of the need for data science outreach, particularly in order to reach underrepresented populations. Data science outreach is the focus of this episode of stats and stories with guest James Dickens. James Dickens is a Professorial Lecturer of Mathematics and Statistics at American University (Washington DC) since 2014; specializing now in Data Science. Specifically, teaching graduate courses in the Data Science program. Research topics of interest focus on the usage and the applications of the R programming language and the infusion of Python as learning aid in standard classes of mathematics.
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a pause on the distribution and use of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID vaccine. The pause amid reports that 6 women who had received the vaccine had developed rare blood clots. The concern this has brought up around J&J’s vaccine mirrors earlier concerns raised in relation to the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca. Vaccine safety is a focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Dr. Susan Ellenberg. Dr. Ellenberg is a Professor of Biostatistics, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Her research interests have focused on issues in the design and analysis of clinical trials, and on assessment of medical product safety. She is an associate editor of Clinical Trials as well as of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Privacy is becoming an ever more potent concern as we grapple with the reality that our phones, computers, and our browser histories are filled with data that could reveal a lot about who we are sometimes things we’d rather keep private. The issue of the privacy of data is not a new concern for researchers in fact, whenever someone wants to work with people, oversight boards ask them about how they’ll keep data about participants private. But the data landscape for researchers and statisticians is changing and that’s the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guests Claire McKay Bowen and Joshua Snoke. Claire McKay Bowen is the Lead Data Scientist of Privacy and Data Security at the Urban Institute. Her research focuses on comparing and evaluating the quality of differentially private data synthesis methods and science communication. After completing her Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Notre Dame, she worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she investigated cosmic ray effects on supercomputers. She is also the recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Microsoft Graduate Women’s Fellowship, and Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship. Joshua Snoke is an Associate Statistician at the RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh. His research focuses on applied statistical data privacy methods for increasing researchers’ access to data restricted due to privacy concerns. He has published on various statistical data privacy topics, such as differential privacy, synthetic data, and privacy preserving distributed estimation. He serves on the Privacy and Confidentiality Committee for the American Statistical Association and the RAND Human Subjects and Protections Committee. He received his Ph.D. in Statistics from the Pennsylvania State University.
The best thing about being a statistician,” he said, “is that you get to play in everyone's backyard.” That famous quote by John Tukey is optimized by our guest and the focus of this episode of Stats and Short Stories with guest Walter Piegorsch. Walter W. Piegorsch is the Director of Statistical Research & Education at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute. He is also a Professor of Mathematics, a Professor of Public Health, a Member and former Chair of the University’s Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) in Statistics. Dr. Piegorsch’s research focuses on data science and informatics for environmental hazards and risk assessment.
When planning for potential disasters, we often focus on hurricanes that might ravage coastal areas or tornados and droughts that strike rural parts of the Midwest. But researchers are also working to uncover the vulnerabilities faced by urban areas and that’s the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Walter Piegorsch. Walter W. Piegorsch is the Director of Statistical Research & Education at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute. He is also a Professor of Mathematics, a Professor of Public Health, a Member and former Chair of the University’s Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) in Statistics. Dr. Piegorsch’s research focuses on data science and informatics for environmental hazards and risk assessment.
After over a year of being stuck in our houses. A lot of us are appreciating the outdoors on our planet a little bit more healthy environment and more our focus on this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Leslie McClure. McClure is Professor & Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. Dr. McClure does work to try to understand disparities in health, particularly racial and geographic disparities, and the role that the environment plays in them. Her methodological expertise is in the design and analysis of multicenter trials, as well as issues of multiplicity in clinical trials. She is currently the Director of the Coordinating Center for the Diabetes LEAD Network, and the Director of the Data Coordinating Center for the Connecting the Dots: Autism Center of Excellence.
Individuals and institutions around the United States are grappling with the history of racism in the country as well as the ways they themselves have contributed to it. Many are working to adopt anti-racist approaches to their work and in their everyday lives. How to be an anti-racist data scientist is the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Emily Hadley. Emily Hadley is a Research Data Scientist with the RTI International Center for Data Science. Her work spans several practice areas including health, education, social policy, and criminal justice. Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics with a second major in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a Master of Science in Analytics from North Carolina State University.
As COVID has ravaged the globe, it's overshadowed another ongoing global story of migration, according to new data from the International Organization for Migration migrants make up 3.5%. of the total global population with the top five countries of origin being India and Mexico China, Russia and Syria that information and more can be found in the IOM 2020 world migration report, that's the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Marie McAuliffe. Dr. Marie McAuliffe is the head of the Migration Research Division at IOM headquarters in Geneva and Editor of IOM’s flagship World Migration Report. She is an international migration specialist with more than 20 years of experience in migration as a practitioner, program manager, senior official and researcher.Marie has researched, published and edited widely in academic and policy spheres on migration and is on the editorial boards of scientific journals International Migration and Migration Studies, and is an Associate Editor of the Harvard Data Science Review. She was the 2018 recipient of the Charles Price Prize in demography for outstanding doctoral research in migration studies. Her Research interests include Forced migration Migrant decision-making Migrant smuggling Media representations of migration Enhancing public confidence in migration Public policy research partnerships The views expressed in this podcast are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the IOM or its member states.
Everyone has a podcast nowadays. Whether it's about sports, politics or features some of the most fascinating discussions on the current state of statistical communication in the world. No matter the topic, it seems like someone, somewhere is talking into a microphone about it. Getting someone to act on your podcast however - that's a lot more rare. Today we're here to discuss podcasting with our guest Tim Harford. Harford is an economist, journalist and broadcaster. He is author of "How To Make the World Add Up", "Messy", and the million-selling "The Undercover Economist". Tim is a senior columnist at the Financial Times, and the presenter of Radio 4's "More or Less", the iTunes-topping series "Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy", and the new podcast "Cautionary Tales". Tim has spoken at TED, PopTech and the Sydney Opera House. He is an associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford and an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Tim was made an OBE for services to improving economic understanding in the New Year honors of 2019. His newest book “The Data Detective” was released in the U.S. and Canada earlier this month. Check out the episode here. - https://timharford.com/2021/03/cautionary-tales-florence-nightingale-and-her-geeks-declare-war-on-death/
Much of the United States is buried under snow and ice, leaving many dreaming of spring. For some – that dream of spring brings with it a longing to hear the crack of a ball on a bat or the taste of peanuts in a ballpark. With the spring thaw comes baseball season and, with it, the inevitable number crunching associated with the sport. Data and baseball is the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Christopher J. Phillips. Phillips is a historian of science at Carnegie Mellon University. His research is  on the history of statistics and mathematics, particularly the claimed benefits of introducing mathematical tools and models into new fields. He is the author of "Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know about Baseball" and "The New Math: A Political History," and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Time.com, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature.  He received his Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University.
Our lives are framed, every day by data and statistics, though we may not always be aware of that fact. Helping us make sense of this universe of data is the goal of many an economist, statistician, and journalist. It’s also the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Tim Harford. Tim Harford is an economist, journalist and broadcaster. He is author of "Messy", and the million-selling "The Undercover Economist". His newest book “The Data Detective” was released in the U.S. and Canada earlier this month. Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times, and the presenter of Radio 4's "More or Less", the iTunes-topping series "Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy", and the new podcast "Cautionary Tales". Tim has spoken at TED, PopTech and the Sydney Opera House. He is an associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford and an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Tim was made an OBE for services to improving economic understanding in the New Year honors of 2019.
The COVID pandemic has complicated everything from school to work to grocery shopping. The need to physically distance from people not in our homes has made it difficult to maintain friendships or causal relationships while being stuck at home with a significant other for months on end can make even the biggest house seem tiny. COVID’s impact on relationships and sex is the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Debby Herbenick. Herbenick is a sex educator, sex advice columnist, author, research scientist, children's book author, blogger, television personality, professor, and human sexuality expert in the media. Dr. Herbenick is a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health and was lead investigator of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.
If the last year’s done anything, it’s made clear how important statistics and data can be to our understanding of the world. It’s not just statisticians and public health officials pouring over things like positivity rates or infection rates, the general public’s also become more familiar with the concepts. But, sometimes, highly visible data can lead to some highly suspect conclusions. And bad data, like bad romance, can lead to bad decisions. Damned lies and dubious data are the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with guest Joel Best. Best is a Professor Of Sociology And Criminal Justice At The University Of Delaware. His writing focuses on understanding how and why we become concerned with particular issues at particular moments in time–why we find ourselves worried about road rage one year, and identity theft a year or so later. He’s written about the ways bad statistics creep into public debates, and about dubious fears, such as the mistaken belief that poisoned Halloween candy poses a serious threat to our kids. Check out his books Damned Lies and Statistics, More Damned Lies and Statistics, Stat-Spotting. https://www.joelbest.net/dubious-statistics
Race science, the belief that there are inherent biological differences between human races, has been “repeatedly debunked” in the words of the Guardian, and yet, like a pseudo-scientific hydra it raises its heard every so often. Most recently race science is the return of scientific racism is the focus of this episode of Stats and Stories, where we explore the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics with guest Angela Saini. Angela Saini is a science journalist, author and broadcaster. She presents radio and television programmes for the BBC, and her writing has appeared across the world, including in New Scientist, Prospect, The Sunday Times, Wired, and National Geographic. In 2020 Angela was named one of the world's top 50 thinkers by Prospect magazine, and in 2018 she was voted one of the most respected journalists in the UK. Her latest book, Superior: The Return of Race Science, was published in May 2019 and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Foyles Book of the Year.
Risk is a tricky thing. We like to think we understand it but when it gets down to brass tacks it can be harder to wrap your brain around things like acceptable or unacceptable risk. How do you define it how do people understand risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the trouble we sometimes have understanding risk, communicating risk is a focus of this episode of Stats and Stories with Baruch Fischhoff Baruch Fischhoff is the Howard Heinz University Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University. Fischhoff’s a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the National Academy of Medicine and past President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and of the Society for Risk Analysis. He was founding chair of the Food and Drug Administration Risk Communication Advisory Committee and chaired the National Research Council Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security. His research focuses on judgment and decision making, including risk perception and risk analysis. Fischoff is the author of a number of books on the subject, including Acceptable Risk and Risk: A Very Short Introduction.
What are the odds of your favorite team's victory, how much should they spend on a big name player, we discuss this other topics this on today's episode of Stats+Stories with guest Robert Mastrodomenico Mastrodomenico is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society as well as owner and founder of his statistical consulting company Global Sports Statistics.. He is also the Chair of RSS’ Statisticians for Society initiative since its inception in 2017. He is also an RSS Statistical Ambassador, which involves regular work with the media in assisting with their reporting of statistical issues.
Scientific publications drive science, well that's stating the obvious, isn't it, but the form and way it's processed is historic. It's historic in the sense that there are journals that are gatekeepers, their editors that are sending out submissions to reviewers, who are then providing comments, and then it's almost that it's set in stone and locked in place for the future. But there are challenges to this and one of the challenges is the focus of this episode of Stats+Short Stories with guest Alexandra Freeman. Alexandra Freeman is the Executive Director of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, a role she took up in 2016. She previously spent 16 years working for the BBC, primarily a producer and director for BBC Science. Alexandra is passionate about bringing science to the widest possible audience. Along with working in television she has also helped develop content for computer games, social media and websites, as well as formal learning resources
This has been a year for numbers. COVID states have been a collective obsession. Vote percentages surprising. Hours spent online ... unending. The Royal Statistical Society has run the numbers and has voted for its Stats of the Year. That’s the focus of this episode Stats and Stories with guest Jennifer Rogers. Rogers is an experienced statistical consultant who has a special interest in the development and application of novel statistical methodologies, particularly in medicine, although her portfolio of clients cuts across a wide variety of applications. She works alongside other statisticians, clinicians, computer scientists, industry experts and regulators. Rogers is Vice President for Statistical Research and Consultancy at PHASTAR, a global contract research organisation. Rogers directs the statistical research strategy, helping the company stay at the cutting edge of new methodological advances. Rogers also regularly works with journalists to improve the reporting of statistics in the media. She is a popular statistics presenter and can often be heard on the Radio or seen on TV screens. She has made a number of appearances on BBC Radio 4's More or Less and appeared on series 42 of BBC Watchdog where she presented their "Best or Worst" segment.
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