June 14, 2024

May 27-28, 2009 --3:30
Room 230, Fields Institute
Distinguished Lecture Series in Statistical Science

David Spiegelhalter
Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk
Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge

May 27, 2009 --3:30 p.m.
Analysing Uncertainty
Audio & Slides of the Talk

Statisticians try to face up to uncertainty, but this term has many subtle shades of meaning. The classical paradigm deals with variability in observable random quantities, while a Bayesian approach extends our range to include formal expressions of epistemic uncertainty about unknown states of the world. More controversial is the use of probability statements that measure what we believe about how the world works, for example in climate change modelling. It has been argued, however, that all such quantitative approaches are rather restrictive and that more informal methods are needed to deal with the much deeper uncertainties and ambiguities in human affairs. I shall attempt to examine how well statistical methods deal with all these demands, with special emphasis on the Bayesian paradigm.

May 28, 2009 --3:30 p.m.
Communicating Uncertainty
Audio & Slides of the Talk

Honest communication of uncertainty seems an essential part of any statistical project. We can construct risk estimates, interval estimates for unknown quantities, various measures of evidence for and against hypotheses, and so on, but the way in which these are communicated can strongly influence the perception of the consumers of the analysis. I shall look at the different forms of text, numbers, and graphics that have been used in a variety of contexts to communicate uncertainty, whether to individual members of the public or those with responsibility for policy. I will suggest that the current possibility for interactive animations provides a fine opportunity for a more flexible and multi-layered approach, so there will be a lot of pictures, many of them moving.

The Distinguished Lecture Series in Statistical Science series was established in 2000 and takes place annually. It consists of two lectures by a prominent statistical scientist. The first lecture is intended for a broad mathematical sciences audience. The series occasionally takes place at a member university and is tied to any current thematic program related to statistical science; in the absence of such a program the speaker is chosen independently of current activity at the Institute. A nominating committee of representatives from the member universities solicits nominations from the Canadian statistical community and makes a recommendation to the Fields Scientific Advisory Panel, which is responsible for the selection of speakers.

Distinguished Lecture Series in Statistical Science Index

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