Title: Communicating controversial statistical results to the public
Authors: Jessica Utts - University of California, Irvine (United States) [presenting]
Abstract: One of the fundamental aspects of statistical studies is dealing with uncertainty. But most members of the public want concrete information and are not comfortable with uncertainty. Communicating uncertainty is even more important (and difficult) when the topic is controversial. The speaker was the co-author of a report for the U.S. Congress assessing the statistical evidence for psychic abilities in U.S. government-sponsored research. The report received widespread attention and the speaker was interviewed for various media formats including print, radio, television, and documentary films. This experience provided both the opportunities and responsibilities for communicating controversial statistical information to a broad lay public. It also highlighted the challenges of providing statistical information in short sound bites and on live television in an interview format. This talk will discuss that experience, and offer suggestions for statisticians who wish to communicate results to the masses.