Statistical Literacy

2015 2015            03/04/17

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 StatLit News 2015

Milo Schield, Editor







IMS             2015 General Interest Events             Statistics

  • 2015/09: Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics 1st Edition by Gary Smith
    “A very entertaining book about a very serious problem. We deceive ourselves all the time with statistics, and it is time we wised up.” –Robert J. Shiller, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Did you know that baseball players whose names begin with the letter “D” are more likely to die young? Or that Asian Americans are most susceptible to heart attacks on the fourth day of the month? Or that drinking a full pot of coffee every morning will add years to your life, but one cup a day increases the risk of pancreatic cancer? All of these “facts” have been argued with a straight face by credentialed researchers and backed up with reams of data and convincing statistics.
    As Nobel Prize–winning economist Ronald Coase once cynically observed, “If you torture data long enough, it will confess.” Lying with statistics is a time-honored con. In Standard Deviations, economics professor Gary Smith walks us through the various tricks and traps that people use to back up their own crackpot theories. Sometimes, the unscrupulous deliberately try to mislead us. Other times, the well-intentioned are blissfully unaware of the mischief they are committing. Today, data is so plentiful that researchers spend precious little time distinguishing between good, meaningful indicators and total rubbish. Not only do others use data to fool us, we fool ourselves.
  • 2015/09: Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception Hardcover – September 22, 2015 by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller.
    Ever since Adam Smith, the central teaching of economics has been that free markets provide us with material well-being, as if by an invisible hand. In Phishing for Phools, Nobel Prize-winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller deliver a fundamental challenge to this insight, arguing that markets harm as well as help us. As long as there is profit to be made, sellers will systematically exploit our psychological weaknesses and our ignorance through manipulation and deception. Rather than being essentially benign and always creating the greater good, markets are inherently filled with tricks and traps and will "phish" us as "phools."  At the same time, the book tells stories of individuals who have stood against economic trickery--and how it can be reduced through greater knowledge, reform, and regulation.
  • 2015/08 Statistical Inference for Managers Milo Schield. ASA JSM 6up 1up

  • The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David Hand. TOC:1 The Mystery; 2 A Capricious Universe; 3. What is Chance? 4 The Law of Inevitability; 5 The Law of Truly Large Numbers; 6 The Law of Selection; 7 The Law of the Probability Lever; 8 The Law of Near Enough; 9 The Human Mind; 10 Life, the Universe and Everything; 11 How to Use the Improbability Principle.

  • What is wrong with THE Introductory Statistics Course.  Schield USCOTS 2015.   Statistical Literacy roundtable

  • New classroom video:  Statisticians: Making our World a Better Place.  Schield 2015 USCOTS.  4.5 minutes

  • April 29: Congratulations go to Tyler VanderWeele, winner of the 2015 ASA “Causality in Statistics Education Award” for his book “Explanation in Causal Inference” (Oxford, 2015). The award ceremony will take place at the 2015 JSM conference, August 8-13, in Seattle. Another good news, Google has joined Microsoft in sponsoring next year’s award, so please upgrade your 2016 nominations. For details of nominations and selection criteria, see   Source:

  • 2015 Fall:  Updating the GAISE College Guidelines   Committee chaired by Michelle Everson.

  • 2015 Aug 3:  RSS Statistics for Journalists Training.    Storyboard

  • 2015 July 19: Added webpage for Jerome Cornfield.

  • 2015 Jun 21:  Lynn Steen, RIP.  Obituary

  • 2015 June 9: RSS: Call for Grant Ideas.  Submit by July 31, 2015.

  • 2015 May 11: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

  • 2015 Apr 28:  Statistics: P values are just the tip of the iceberg by Leek & Peng in Nature.  "In practice, decisions that are made earlier in data analysis have a much greater impact on results — from experimental design to batch effects, lack of adjustment for confounding factors, or simple measurement error. Arbitrary levels of statistical significance can be achieved by changing the ways in which data are cleaned, summarized or modelled."

  • 2015 Apr 25: Are You Smarter than an 8th Grader?  Nicholas Kristof.  "I believe American high schools and colleges overemphasize calculus and don’t sufficiently teach statistics. Statistical literacy should be part of every citizen’s tool kit." Copy

  • 2015 Apr 11: Statistical Literacy online course for teachers (no credit):  May 11-June 29. Syllabus, Textbook and Registration

  • 2015 Mar 18: The first crack in the wall of significance testing by Simon Oxenham.  See Cummings "Dance of the P-values"

  • 2015 March:  "LOCUS has developed a series of assessments designed to measure statistical literacy." "LOCUS addresses the assessment component of the [GAISE] framework to provide items that assess statistical literacy in the spirit of GAISE." LOCUS: Levels of Conceptual Understanding in Statistics.   Amstat news March p. 35. Content: "Emphasis on Practice and Process of Statistical Problem Solving: Formulating Statistical Questions & Collecting Data (40%) Analyzing Data and Interpreting Results (60%). LOCUS Assessments (two versions) Register at for an account and start using the assessments today.  Funded by NSF in 2011 with $2.1 million.

  • 2015 Feb 25: Psychology Journal Bans Significance Testing by Steven Novella.  See Cummings "Dance of the P-values"

  • 2015 Feb 19:  10 Modern Statistical Concepts Discovered by Data Scientists by Granville. "Here we highlight 11 major data science contributions to statistical science. I am not aware of any statistical science contribution to data science, but if you know one, you are welcome to share."

  • 2015 Feb 12: BASP is Banning NHSTP by Trafimow and Marks.

  • 2015 Jan 28:  Bob Hayden's Review of Presenting Data.

  • 2015 Jan 15: Your demand for statistical proof is racist. Candice Lanius in Cyborgology. "A demand for statistical proof is blatant distrust of someone’s lived experience." Copy

  • Judea Pearl (above) sponsors ASA Causality in Statistical Education Award. The committee is pleased to announce that a gift from Microsoft Research will enable the prize to double in 2015. A $10,000 prize or two $5,000 prizes will awarded this year. For additional information about the award, see the 2012 announcement, the 2013 winner and the 2014 winner. Nominations and questions should be sent to the ASA office at The nomination deadline is February 15, 2015. Visit for nomination information.


  • 2015 Aug 9-13 Joint Statistical Meeting in Seattle, WA.
    Sunday 8/09:
    3:05 #040 Looking Deeper into Student's Engagement, Learning Style, and Attitudes by Chauhan* & Zubovic (Purdue U. Fort Wayne)
    *  4:45 #067 Causal Inference in Environmental Science and Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges by Molly Davies
    *  5:05 #065 Intro Stats in the 21st century by Richard De Veaux* (Williams)
    Monday 8/10:
    *  7:00 #095 Roundtable Writing in the Statistics Classroom by Kim Love-Myers* (Statistical Consulting Center, UGA)
    *  8:50 #143 Teaching Study Design Principles vs. Data Analysis by Tisha Hooks* and April Kerby (Winona State)
    *  9:05 #143 What Would Fisher Do? Promoting a Rich Understanding of Model Construction by Couton & Stroup (U. Nebraska - Lincoln)
    *  9:20 #143 Including a History of Statistics Course in your Curriculum by Phyllis Curtiss* and Kirk Anderson (Grand Valley State)
    * 10:35 #185 Teaching Meta-Analysis: Concepts, Controversies, and Resources by Deborah Dawson (Univ. Iowa)
    * 10:50 #185 3 Related Paradoxes by Harry James Norton, Carolinas Medical Center & George Divine, Henry Ford Hospital
    * 11:05 #185 From Measurement Errors to Normal Distributions: History and Pedagogical Implications by Ilhan Izmirli (GMU)
    * 11:05 #186 SBSIG Visual Analytics and the Introductory Statistics Course: Time for a Paradigm Shift by Benjamin Adams (U. AL)
    * 12:05 #182 Graphical causal models: the next multimodel inference regime change needed in Ecology? Irvine* and Gitelman (Oregon St)
    *  2:00 #240 Panel: GAISE in Increasingly Data-Centric World Rob Carver, John Gabrosek, Megan Mocko, Paul Velleman, Beverly Wood
    Tuesday 8/11:
    *  7:00 #276 Roundtable Resampling in the Undergraduate Curriculum by Tim Hesterberg (Google)
    * 10:30 #377 Poster #12: Estimating Causal RCTs w. Provider-Subject Noncompliance by Elisa Sheng* & Xiao-Hua Zhou (U. Wa)
    * 10:35 #330 A new criterion for confounder selection by Tyler VanderWeele* (Harvard) and Ilya Shpitser (U. Southampton)
    * 11:50 #362 Graphical Framework for Causal Reasoning: Multivariate, Multilevel & Longitudinal Settings. Theobald & Richardson (U. Wa)
    * 11:20 #366 Reading Assignments for the Statistics Classroom by Scott Mcclintock* and Steve Soltys (Elizabethtown College) 6up 1up
    * 11:35 #366 Quantitative Writing: Communicating Data
    by Kimberly Massaro* and Gail Pizzola (UTSA) 6up 1up
    * 11:50 #366 Children statistical literacy: Empowering & informing future decision makers
    by Matilde Sanchez-Pena & J. Main (Purdue) 1up
    * 12:05 #366 Statistical Inference for Managers
    by Milo Schield (Augsburg)   6up  1up  PPTX
    * 12:30 #389 Roundtable: Innovative Ways for Teaching Large Statistics Courses by Stacey Hancock (U. Calif. Irvine)
    *  2:00 #404 Invited Panel: Statistics Education via Online Courses. John McGready, James Rosenberger, Simon Sheather & Camille Fairbourn
    Wednesday 8/12:
    *  7:00 #456 Roundtable Quantitative Statistics Courses Are Very Qualitative by Leanna House* and Scotland Leman (Virginia Tech)
    *  8:30 #486 Panel: Landscape of Business Analytics at Higher Education. Phelps (Duquesne), Szabat, Anderson, Camm & LaBarr.  Slides
    *  8:55 #480 Unraveling Bias in Online [Natural] Experimentation by Chris Harland (Microsoft)
    *  9:15 #480 How Credible are Observational Estimates of Causal Effects from 'Big Data' by Eytan Bakshy* and Dean Eckles (Facebook)
    *  9:15 #487 Relationship b/t Verbal Reasoning Skills and Statistical Literacy... by Elizabeth Johnson*(GMU) & D. Keosayian (Wilkes)
    *  9:20 #487 what statistically significant relationship looks like [in scatter plots] by Aaron Fisher*, Anderson, Peng & Leek (John Hopkins)
    *  9:30 #487 Reinforcing Experimental Design with Activities by Paul Stephenson*, Curtiss, Richardson and Reischman (Grand Valley State)
    *  9:40 #487 Changing How Students Think About Statistics by Paul Plummer (U. Central Missouri)
    *  9:55 #487 Are Pie Charts Really So Bad? by Michael Posner* and Joseph Reiter (Villanova)
    * 10:05 #490 Causal inference for ordinal outcomes by Alexander Volfovsky*, Edo Airoldi and Donald Rubin (Harvard)
    * 10:50 #545..Evolution of Statistical Terms such as Analytics, Big Data, and Data Science by John McKenzie, Babson College
    * 11:00 #517 ...Delivering Impactful End-to-End Stories to Executive Audiences by Paul Swiontkowski (Microsoft)
    *  3:05 #597 On causal interpretations of race in regressions adjusting for confounding and mediating variables by Whitney Robinson (UNC)
    Thursday 8/13:
    *  9:05 #654 Peer Assessment in the Statistics Classroom by Dennis Sun (Stanford & Google)
    * 10:35 #691 Bias Amplification: The Case of Fixed-effects by Joel Middleton*, Marc Scott, Jennifer Hill and Ronli Diakow

  • 2015 July 22-24.International Assoc Statistical Educators (IASE) Satellite Conference Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    Data Sciences: Statistics or Computer Science. Timothy J. Kyng, Ayse Bilgin and Busayasachee Puang Ngern (Macquarie U.)  Slides

  • 2015 June 22-23.  Statistical Literacy conference (Turning Data into Knowledge) in Lisbon Portugal. "Currently, statistics education takes place in a new social and cultural context and faces a global challenge of meeting the calls for statistically literate and informed citizens who are able to turn data into knowledge. Such a challenge provides new opportunities to rethink both what statistics we teach and how we teach statistics. Doing so is imperative in order to develop students’ ability to reason about data and to use them effective and critically, in their daily life, for prediction and decision-making."  "Two strands have been defined: A. Statistical literacy and B. Statistical reasoning." Invited speakers are Dani Ben-Zvi and Janet Ainley.

  • 2015: June 15. The Taming of Chance Story Competition.  Sponsored by The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences in partnership with the American Statistical Association).  This competition "seeks to answer a critical question at the center of how statistics is (or is not) relevant to our everyday lives. Answering the question "What our world be like if the normal curve had never been discovered", statistics educators and students are invited to tell a story which makes the subject resonate with a general audience who increasingly have a need to be quantitatively literate.  The competition judges will be awarding the $2000 grand prize in June of 2015, and to further encourage participation by younger students, an additional $1500 prize is reserved for entries from students under the age of 26. 
    Submission deadline, June 15 2015." For more information, please see the competition website:

  • 2015 May 28-30.  USCOTS 2015.  The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel State College, Pennsylvania "Making Connections"  Calendar, Plenary speakers and workshops.    Opening session: What's wrong with Stat 101.  Allan Rossman describes the course. In the oppening address, Dick De Veaux (Slides) and George Cobb diagnosis the ills and suggest some cures.  Short responses by each of six discussants: Amy Wagaman, Jeff Witmer, Jessica Utts, Milo Schield (Slides, Paper), Nathan Tintle, Webster West.  Schield Statistical Literacy roundtable.   Amy Phelps and Kathryn Szabat and Kathryn Knape: "Planning an Academic Analytics program': Slides 

  • 2015 Mar 10.  Updating the curriculum of an introductory statistical literacy course for the modern student with Ellen Gundlach, Purdue University 2:00 to 2:30p.m. Eastern time, Tuesday March 10th, 2015 (note special time) Teaching & Learning Series Webinar. Abstract: Strategies for including important (and sometimes controversial), modern issues from society into an introductory statistical literacy course for liberal arts students will be discussed, including several projects which have been successfully used for 500 students split between large-lecture traditional, fully online, and flipped sections. Topics include advertisement analysis, big data, ethics, social media article discussions, and a service learning project. These new topics and projects capture student interest and show them how relevant statistical literacy is to their daily lives.   To register for this webinar please visit:    Ellen Grundlach page at

    "Using Calibrated Peer Review in Statistics and Biology: A Coordinated Statistical Literacy Project' with Ellen Gundlach & Nancy Pelaez, Purdue University 2:00 to 2:30 pm Eastern time, October 13th, 2009 Ellen and Nancy use Calibrated Peer Review, an online writing and peer evaluation program available from UCLA, to introduce statistical literacy to Nancy's freshman biology students and to bring a real-world context to statistical concepts for Ellen's introductory statistics classes in an NSF-funded project. CPR allows instructors in large classes to give their students frequent writing assignments without a heavy grading burden. Ellen and Nancy have their students read research journal articles on interesting subjects and use guiding questions to evaluate these articles for statistical content, experimental design features, and ethical concerns.       CPR at

  • 2015: Feb 28.   Statistics Education Research Journal (SERJ) call for papers on the topic of 'Research on Statistical Literacy'.  Guest editors are Jim Ridgeway and James Nicholson, and SERJ co-editor Maxine Pfannkuch. Interested authors should send a letter of intent by February 28, 2015, but preferably earlier, consisting of a 150-250 word abstract describing key aspects of the paper.  Manuscripts for this special issue will be limited to a maximum of 7500 words of body text and authors are encouraged to aim for 4000-6000 words of body text (not counting abstract, tables and graphs, references, appendices).  Copy

  • 2015: Feb 15.  Nominations due for 2015 Judea Pearl Causality Award.  Submissions should include a cover letter that provides information about the nominee, type of material suggested as an important contribution, the intended audience, and an abstract of why the material is nominated, along with the nominated work. Submissions and questions should be sent to the ASA office at 2015: Jan 10-13. 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings.  San Antonio, TX. Deadlines. Abstracts for All Speakers. 
    Selected contributed paper themes:
    *  Best Practices for Teaching the Introductory Statistics Course
    organized by Randall Pruim, Scott Alberts and Patti Frazer Lock.
    *  Statistics Education beyond the Introductory Statistics Course organized by Randall Pruim, Scott Alberts and Patti Frazer Lock.  
    *  Infusing QL into Mathematics and Nonmathematics Courses
    organized by Andrew Miller, Aaron Montgomery and Gary Franchy.
    Abstract submissions.   Details

  • 2015: Feb 1.  USCOTS 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations "The Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) is now accepting nominations for the 2015 USCOTS Lifetime Achievement Award in statistics education. This biennial award is presented at the U.S. Conference On Teaching Statistics to an individual who, over an extended period of time, has made lasting contributions with broad impact to the field of statistics education especially, but not limited to, the teaching and learning of college-level statistics.  A nomination packet (maximum 10 pages) should include a nomination letter of up to 3 pages signed by three nominators stating why the individual is deserving of the award and up to 7 pages of supporting testimony/e-mails from others." Call for Nominations

  • 2015: Feb 1.  USCOTS 2015 Call for Poster Proposals "We are calling for proposals for the Posters and Beyond (P&B) session for USCOTS 2015 (United States Conference On Teaching Statistics) which will be held May 28-30, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania. The P&B session provides an opportunity for conference participants to display a poster of their ideas or provide a small demonstration of their favorite examples, activities, and teaching methods. Due to limited space, the P&B will be limited to approximately 70 presenters. Abstracts for posters or demonstrations in the USCOTS Posters and Beyond session submitted before Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 11:59pm will receive feedback from the session organizers by Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Final abstracts should be submitted by Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 11:59pm. Abstracts submitted between February 1 and April 1 will be considered for selection, but will not receive feedback from the session organizers. Posters and Beyond is a peer-reviewed opportunity at USCOTS, thus the P&B team will make decisions about inclusion in the program. All P&B applicants will be notified whether they were selected by Friday, April 17, 2015. Abstracts will be submitted through the USCOTS registration system, which will open soon."  Iddo Gal, IASE President.




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