Should You Believe It? Statistics in the Media
Friday, November 20, 2020 from 4 to 5 p.m.
Registration is required for this free webinar. Further instructions and access to join the webinar will be sent to all registrants upon sign up.
News accounts of science and scientific ideas are filled with numbers and implicit advice. They also tell a story. Do violent video games lead to violence? Can brain scans read our minds? Does chocolate make us smarter? In contexts as diverse as political surveys, criminal courts and public health, numbers play an increasingly prominent role as data becomes more accessible. Despite our need for clear rendering of numerical information, many media accounts using statistics are misleading. In this presentation, Rebecca Goldin will share some humorous as well as serious stories about statistical bloopers in the media, peppered with suggestions for better communication. Numerical reasoning can be powerful, she says, when we move past politics and morality to clarify what quantitative information actually tells us, what it does not and what it cannot.
Goldin earned a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a mathematical sciences professor at George Mason University, a fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and director of STATS at Sense About Science USA. Goldin is a leading expert on the use and abuse of statistics in the media, as well as an accomplished mathematician focusing on geometry and related combinatorics. She was the inaugural winner of the Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize of the Association for Women in Mathematics, an Etta Z. Falconer Lecturer on statistics use in the media, and has had numerous grants awarded from the National Science Foundation for her work in mathematics and statistical communication.