The Statistics Seminar speaker for Wednesday, March 29, 2017 is Trevor Butterworth, executive director at Sense About Science USA and a visiting fellow at Cornell University. Butterworth has written for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and the New Yorker.com. He was a science writer for Newsweek and wrote a weekly column—The Information Society—for the iPad newspaper, The Daily. He holds a BA (Hons) and M.Phil from Trinity College Dublin and attended Georgetown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, from which he received an MS and the Sevellon Brown Award for outstanding knowledge of the history of the American press.
Title: Improbable Cause: Communicating Statistics to the Press
Abstract: Ever since newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer announced that journalists should be able to find the “truth” in statistics, it has long been a truism within the press that while journalists ought to be able to reason numerically, it is probably beyond their capacity or interest to do so. But with the rise of technology, and the prestige of “data analytics” in the marketplace, is this still true? Have the heavily reported nutrition wars and coverage of the reproducibility crisis in science triggered some sense that the literary foundations of journalism are incapable of holding science and the world accountable? Is there an emerging awareness of the value of statistics—and if so, how are statisticians to respond? This talk will present data and insights from statistical workshops run by Sense About Science USA at news organizations, journalism schools and organizations.