Love may be known for making the world go 'round, but statistical science is what's keeping the improvements coming. If you have any doubt, watch this video on how statistics is improving human welfare:
And dig into this report Deloitte prepared for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, a UK government agency, on the economic benefits of mathematical science research (MSR) in the UK. For the study, Deloitte said it looked qualitatively at the ways in which MSR influenced economic performance in the UK and then quantified the economic value of MSR in terms of direct employment supported and GVA (gross value added) generated in 2010.
Qualitatively, no one here should be surprised to read that statistical science helps us "make sense of data and better understand the world; safeguard society; and forecast, address uncertainty, and optimize processes." But how could we have known that the field provided jobs for approximately 2.8 million employees (around 10 percent of all jobs in the UK) and contributed about $338 billion in terms of GVA (around 16 percent of total UK GVA), as Deloitte noted in the report? Makes me want to know the same sorts of measures for the US and elsewhere.
You can find each of these resources, as well as many others, at www.statistics2013.org, a special site established to celebrate the International Year of Statistics. As I've written previously, five statistical societies, including the American Statistical Association (ASA), led the creation of the International Year of Statistics, a "worldwide celebration and recognition of the contributions of statistical science." The site is a great resource, not only for statisticians themselves but for those involved in educating those folks who will be responsible for handling the massive amount of data the world generates today and into the future.
That talent issue, once again, rears its head. In an earlier email interview, ASA board member Ron Wasserstein, who also joined AllAnalytics.com for a December e-chat on Statistics2013, cited this as a primary impetus behind the initiative: "the realization that we are not training enough people to have the expertise needed in the world to take advantage of the opportunities of the Age of Big Data." During the e-chat he noted, "statistics is very misunderstood because it is a science that also has as its name one of its concepts. So statistics with a small 's' gets confused with statistics with a capital 'S'. But also it has often been taught poorly, which leaves a bad taste."
From my early perusal of Statistics2013.org, I'd say the folks behind this initiative are working quite hard at making statistics approachable -- fun, even. You can find:
- A statistic of the day
- Posters to download
- Contests to enter
- Links to statisticians in the news
- Career insight
And the list goes on. Stop by Statistics2013.org and let us know what you think. Do you have reason to celebrate your role in working with data?