Blogs

Alcohol, pregnancy and the precautionary principle

A recent study showed no evidence of an adverse effect of moderate consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and subsequent child development. But the Department of Health has commented "After assessing the available evidence, we cannot say with confidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe and will not harm your baby. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol."
Is this still a tenable position?

Handling uncertainty about climate change

The Inter-Academy Council (IAC) recently produced a report on the workings of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) which got a lot of publicity, but almost no coverage was given to what the IAC said about the IPCC's way of handling uncertainty. It makes interesting reading.

Paul - the soothsaying cephalopod

Article in today's Times included below. I should have included the important observation that even if Paul's final two predictions are correct, it does not change my total belief that he is not psychic and the results are just chance. Essentially when a hypothesis has zero initial probability, no amount of surprising evidence will shift that belief. Oh dear, what a closed-minded person I am.

Risk-intelligence about children

This is an article that appeared in the Times on Friday July 2nd - sadly everyone now has to pay to access Times articles online.

Small but lethal risks - how dangerous is it to go into hospital?

We have an article on micromorts in Plus this month, featuring a simple but effective animation for comparing risks of different activities.

The risks of war and peace

Who is exposed to the greater lethal risk: a member of the UK forces serving in Afghanistan, or an average patient spending the night in an English hospital? Of course the question can’t be answered exactly: it all depends on who we mean and how we measure risk. But statistics can give us a ball-park figure that may be surprising.

Predicting the premier league results

Here is the spreadsheet showing the way in which my predictions were made. I hope it is comprehensible, at least for enthusiasts! I discussed this on the Today programme the day before the matches.

Calling all poor soothsayers: cash prizes for good forecasting

Do you reckon you have good statistical skills? Now's the chance to prove it in two forecasting competitions that are running this month, both of which feature the Eurovision Song Contest.

Sometimes statistical models really can predict what will happen

I have just put an article up on the science blog on The Times website about the recent 'breakthrough' in screening for colorectal cancer. Not only was this, for once, a real breakthrough, but it was almost exactly as predicted in a publication 17 years ago.

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