Archive for RSS

RSS COVID evidence sessions

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2022 by xi'an

The Royal Statistical Society is launching a series of discussions linked with the UK Government handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (and of the related data):

  • Communication during the pandemic: Data, statistical analyses and modelling, 5 April
    Organising panel of David Spiegelhalter, Tom Chivers and Jen Rogers
    Register for the in-person or online event
  • Governments’ statistical resources, 3 May
    Organising panel of Simon Briscoe and Gavin Freeguard
  • Evidence and policy, 21 June
    Organising panel of Sylvia Richardson, Dani De Angelis and John Aston
  • Evaluation, 12 July
    Organising panel of Sheila Bird, Christl Donnelly and Max Parmar.


RSS 2022 Honours

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2022 by xi'an

Scrapping Covid surveillance study would put public health at risk [by Silvia Richardson]

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2022 by xi'an

Royal Statistical Society president (and very dear friend) Sylvia Richardson published this tribune in the Guardian defending the preservation of a national surveillance system last week:

Sajid Javid is right to argue against scrapping the Office for National Statistics’ Covid surveillance study. Throughout the pandemic, national surveillance studies have provided invaluable information to support decision-making.

For any real-time health surveillance system to be reliable and cost-effective, it cannot rely solely on self-reported tests. These data sets are likely to be biased, as it is impossible to know how many people are also reporting their negative results and, if tests start to come with a cost, how many people simply aren’t testing. If we are to get reliable information about the prevalence of Covid, it is essential to maintain studies such as the ONS’s and React to allow statisticians to estimate infectiousness and the proportion of the population who are infected (including those without symptoms), as well as to identify new variants.

Abrupt disruption of a surveillance system is wasteful, will make tracking of prevalence meaningless and will put in jeopardy the future health of the public. If important surveillance studies must be scaled down, this cannot be led by arbitrary cost-cutting targets, but should be led by statisticians to ensure that studies continue to provide reliable information.

out-standing scientist

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2021 by xi'an

I noticed quite recently that the [Nature] journal Heredity [managed by the Genetics Society] had published an historical / opinion piece on Ronald Fisher and his views on eugenics and race. The authors are all trustees of the Fisher Memorial Trust. The core of the paper contents was also contained in [one of the authors] Stephen Senn’s talk at the JSM round table (I also took part in) and later at the RSS. This is mostly an attempt at resetting Fisher’s position within the era when he lived, in terms of prevalent racism, nationalism, and imperialism. At the core of these woes was a generalised belief in the superiority of some nations, creeds, human groups, even social classes, over others, that was used as a justification in the tragedies of large scale colonialism, the first World War, systemic racism, Nazism, and widespread forced sterilisations….

More attention to the History of Science is needed, as much by scientists as by historians, and especially by biologists, and this should mean a deliberate attempt to understand the thoughts of the great masters of the past, to see in what circumstances or intellectual milieu their ideas were formed, where they took the wrong turning  track or stopped short of the right.”  R.A. Fisher (1959)

While I am thinking the authors are somewhat stretching the arguments isolating Ronald from the worst manifestations of eugenism and racism, as the concept of “voluntary sterilisation” is more than debatable when applied to patients with limited intellectual abilities, as Fisher considered (in 1943) that the Nazi racial laws “have been successful with the best type of German” (which stands as a fairly stupid statement on so many levels, starting with the one that this racial selection had only started a few years before!) and “that the Party sincerely wished to benefit the German racial stock” (in 1948), my already made point is rather that the general tendency of turning genii into saints is bound to meet with disappointment. (Hence, if we have to stick with them, named lectures, prizes, memorials, &tc., should come with an expiration date!)

Bayesians at the helm!

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2021 by xi'an

Just read the announcement that my friend (and former colleague at Warwick U) Mark Girolami became the Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute, joining forces with Adrian Smith, currently Director and Chief Executive of the Turing Institute, into a Bayesian leadership!

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