An unfortunate side effect of COVID19 has been ugly political debates over the best way to tackle the pandemic. Often politicians will claim because country X does this, the UK should be doing it as well. I decided it was time to do a proper comparison of the UK with other countries to see what extent the UK is an outlier and whether there are some countries we should be using as templates.
On 30th September 2020, CL:AIRE (the industry body for the land contamination & remediation sector) published new professional guidance for “Comparing Soil Contamination Data with a Critical Concentration“. The 46-page document advises how to use statistics when assessing land contamination and whether it is safe for development. I was the lead author of the guidance and I spent 4 years working with CL:AIRE’s steering committee on what the guidance should cover. The 4 years were bookended by two statements published by the ASA (American Statistical Association) on the use & misuse of P-Values in 2016 & 2019 and in writing this guidance I felt was I an ambassador for turning those statements into something that could used by non-statisticians to make real life decisions that have an impact on us all.
Updated on 14th May 2020. New and modified links are italicised.
The Coronavirus Pandemic is a worldwide challenge many of us will have not experienced before. It is natural to want to seek information on the risks and in our world today, it has never been easier to find data, analyses and opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of what you will read out there is either unhelpful or actively misleading. As an independent statistician with 30 years experience of explaining statistics to non-statisticians, my contribution to this crisis will be to try and sort the good from the bad hence this post. [Read more…] about Coronavirus #1 – Useful Data and Links
The Financial Times (FT) has estimated the true number of COVID19 related deaths in the UK as of 20th April 2020 is 42,000 not 17,000 as published by the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC). In this article, I show that the FT headline is incorrect and is the result of either the FT comparing apples with pears due to a misunderstanding over what the various data sets measure or the FT attempting to estimate a number that can never be verified.
April Fools day 2020 saw the hive mind of social media asking what the sample size should be to measure the extent of the Coronavirus in the UK. I could see that many people responding were reaching for standard methodologies which are usually are based on specifying a desired confidence interval. In doing so, they were overlooking a much more effective and relevant alternative based on the methodology of Acceptance Sampling, first developed by the US Military in World War 2.
The mixed picture for the UK economy continued in Q3. GDP growth is now at its lowest level since the 2008/9 recession but unemployment and inflation continues to be good. The low level of growth though continues to be a drag on government finances.
The city of Bath is among a number of cities in the UK tasked with reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions. NOx pollution is thought to contribute to poor health and the government has required clean air plans from the relevant local authorities to be in place before 2021. I had no idea that this would result in my statistical expertise being needed to answer a political row over the BathBreathes2021 plans to charge cars driving into Bath and you can read my report to see what my answer was!
Which is the odd one out from the 3 figures shown below? All are the average number of Americans to die each year from these causes.
- A – 69 from Lawnmowers
- B – 31 from Lightning
- C – 9 from Islamic Terrorists
Do think about your answer before you read on!
Fake news has entered the political dictionary over the last year. Suddenly, politicians and commentators are worried that elections are being influenced by false stories being circulated that appear to be genuine. Social media platforms are under pressure to filter out such stories raising the old questions of censorship and “who guards the guards?” However, evidence on the extent and influence of fake news is thin on the ground.
Welcome to my first post where I put my Evidence Hierarchy or Circle into practice and show you what is behind the headline.
Today I am concentrating on science and technology related articles from the BBC website since that is accessible to nearly everyone. As always, I am critiquing the article more than the research since I have not read the research papers that motivated the article. The 3 articles are:
- “Fruit shaped sensor can improve freshness“.
- “Robots to affect up to 30% of jobs“
- “Dinosaurs may have UK origin“