Thought for the day 20 October

20 October World Statistics Day
Do you ever listen to a group of politicians, ‘experts’, ‘scientists’, campaigners or the like arguing over something (Covid-19, general health, climate change, unemployment, poverty or whatever) and as your eyes glaze over with confusion, think’ “But you aren’t comparing like with like, it’s apples versus pears.” Sometimes you feel that they are deliberately not comparing like with like, so that we, the poor punters, don’t have a chance of understanding the arguments and will therefore leave them to make any decisions. It was concern about providing the public and the decision-makers with clear, transparent information that led the UN to declare in 2010 that on the 20th of October, every five years, there would be a World Statistics Day. This year’s theme is ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust.’ That last word says a lot. We’re so used to disinformation and fake news, spin and ‘apples versus pears’. What we want is data that we can trust. Maybe we have to make that a bit clearer to those who quote statistics – ‘this is what we want to know, and we won’t be content till we get it.’

Lord, we may not be qualified mathematicians or statisticians, but we can understand numbers if they are presented to us in a clear unambiguous way. Getting us all through the pandemic, and dealing with all the other issues that our world faces, depends upon co-operation and trust. If we cannot agree on data, if we do not trust what each other says, we won’t get very far. Whether we are thinking of the ‘high-level’ information that politicians, scientists etc hold, or the everyday bits of information we have, challenge us all to be open and honest are ready to share what we know with others

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