Title: The ups and downs of communicating statistics in an age of fragmented media and contested science
Authors: David Spiegelhalter - University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) [presenting]
Abstract: Those who value quantitative and scientific evidence are faced with claims both of a reproducibility crisis in scientific publication, and of a post-truth society abounding in fake news and alternative facts. In addition, scientists and institutions often exaggerate the importance of their work in order to gain publicity or advance an agenda. These issues are of vital importance to statisticians, and all are deeply concerned with trust in expertise. By considering the pipelines through which scientific and political evidence is propagated through the media, we will consider possible ways of improving both the trustworthiness of the statistical evidence being communicated, and the ability of audiences to assess the quality and reliability of what they are being told. The examples will include stories about the 'risks' of burnt toast and coffee, and whether there is `no safe level of alcohol'.