Monkeys and Shakespeare

I was lucky enough to get included in the Horizon programme on Infinity last night, talking about the old monkey-Shakespeare issue. Of course most of my rambling contribution was (rightly) cut, so here’s a few background details for anyone interested.

The risks of Eggstasy

There has been extensive coverage of a box of 6 eggs found to be all double-yoked:an event that was given odds of a trillion to 1 against. This was based on the British Egg Information Service saying 0.1% ( 1 in 1000) eggs were double-yoked, and so getting six of these required these odds to be multiplied 6 times. In fact this gives 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, but which was reported as a trillion (now usually taken as 1,000,000,000,000).

The Daily Mail did a good demolition of this story, and it is a good example of what can go wrong when people try and work out chances.

Darwin College 2010 lecture series on Risk

Quantifying UncertaintyThe Darwin College lecture series this year is on the subject of Risk. The lectures are being filmed and are accessible either through the University Video Server or via a search on iTunes.

Professor Risk

Sluice Gates BeckonDavid Spiegelhalter's proper title is Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk. He is in two minds (literally) about playing it safe or chucking caution to the wind. Decisions, decisions!? Are bacon sandwiches really that dangerous and is it wise to drive when you love cycling? David shows us how to use statistics to face up to life's major risks.

Can you rank hospitals like football teams?

Elsewhere on this site we talk about the difficulties in making reliable rankings of footbal teams, but at least people can agree that winning matches is a reasonable way to measure the quality of a team. Hospitals are different - even something 'obvious' such as mortality statistics may not be the best way to asses patient safety. This is an article that appeared in the Times on December 2nd, with suitable links added.

What are the chances of successful fertility treatment?

iconThe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently launched their ‘Choose a Fertility Clinic’ website which provides a huge range of information about each clinic licenced by the HFEA, with a lot of fairly complex statistics. The website carefully avoids direct comparisons and any hint of a ‘league table’, but here we look at whether we can draw statistically-valid conclusions about whether some clinics, for whatever reason, really do provide higher chances of success than others.

Football League Tables

video iconIn this video David Spiegelhalter talks about uncertainty in major league football. How much is a team's league position due to luck and how much is due to skill?

Chris Jordan: Picturing Excess

Chris Jordan at TedArtist Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics -- like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.


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