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Nate Silver at JSM: 11 statistics principles for journalists


Nate Silver gave an invited talk at the Joint Statistical Meeting in Montreal and besides being modest and witty, he outlined 11 statistics principles for journalists



Joseph Rickert from Revolution Analytics wrote
an excellent summary of Nate SilverNate Silver (of 538 blog fame) address to JSM 2013, a major statistical meeting, held recently in Montreal.

Nate Silver observed he works at the intersection of journalism and statistics, althought there are some who do not consider him to be a journalist, and he does not consider himself to be a statistician. Nevertheless, he talked about the links between journalism and statistics and presented 11 principles for journalists:

  • Statistics are not just numbers
  • Data requires context
  • Correlation is not causation
  • The average is still the most useful statistical tool
  • Human intuition is often misleading
  • A probability forecast expresses uncertainty instead of trying to conceal it
  • Know thy priors
  • The word complex isn’t always a complement
  • “Insiderism” is the enemy of scientific objectivity
  • Making predictions improves accountability.
  • Like scientists, journalists ought to be more concerned with the truth rather than just appearances.

In response to “What do you think of data science vs. statistics?”,
Nate said that data scientist was just a “sexed up” term for statistician.

Read more.


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