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Statisticians continue to promote contributions to society during the International Year of Statistics

At AAPOR 2013, I had lunch with ASA Executive Director Ronald L. Wasserstein, a former statistics professor at Washburn University in Topeka, who after the conference told me about the International Year of Statistics. The American Statistical Association (ASA) and more than 1,992 organizations in 122 countries have been combining energies in 2013 to promote Statistics 2013, a worldwide initiative that highlights the contributions of the statistics field to finding solutions to global challenges.

The goals of this awareness campaign are to:
  • Increase public understanding of the power and impact of statistics on all aspects of society
  • Nurture statistics as a profession, especially among high-school and college students

Statistics—the science of learning from data and of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty—is much more than the numbers in a survey. “Statistical science has powerful and far-reaching effects on everyone, yet most people are unaware of how it improves their lives,” says Wasserstein.

Examples of the impact of statistics abound in our society. For instance, statistics predicts weather and other natural hazards, powers Internet search engines and marketing campaigns, discovers and develops new drugs and makes the world secure and sustainable. Throughout the last 2 centuries, statistics was indispensable in confirming many of humankind’s greatest scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, such as the Higgs-Boson particle and the agricultural Green Revolution.

Today, statistics is improving the quality of human life on the world’s major continents:
  • Africa—Statistical analysis is reversing the cycle of poverty by improving literacy
  • Asia—Transportation infrastructure is being improved based on statistical models of people flow
  • Australia—Statistics was key in catching drug cheats during the 27th Olympic Games in 2000
  • Europe—Statistical science is a critical tool in planning efficient recycling systems
  • North America—Statistics is synthesizing evidence that improves treatments for heart conditions
  • South America—Statistical methods are helping to feed the world by identifying new crop varieties in breeding experiments

“Our world is increasingly data-rich and data-dependent. Statistical analysis extracts information from this voluminous data to form the basis for decision-making in all types of organizations,” explains Wasserstein. “Without statistics, life would be very different.”

Central features of the Statistics2013 awareness campaign are its website—www.statistics2013.org —and an informative two-and-a-half-minute video that explains how statistics improves the lives of the world’s 7 billion people.

Researchscape International is happy to support the International Year of Statistics.

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