Manifesto for a statistically literate public

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

A great resource is now available online: Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics
by Gerd Gigerenzer, Wolfgang Gaissmaier, Elke Kurz-Milcke, Lisa M. Schwartz, and Steven Woloshin. This article is a robust polemic - a call-to-arms against numerical illiteracy in the face of claims about the health benefits of screening and treatments.

There's many examples of manipulation of public perception, either deliberate or through ignorance - such as 'mismatched framing' where the benefits of treatments are given in relative risks ("Women taking tamoxifen had about 49% fewere diagnoses of breast cancer") while harms are given in absolute risks ("the annual rate of uterine cancer in the tamoxifen arm was 30 per 10,000 compared to 8 per 10,000 in the placebo arm").

This should be compulsory reading.