Articles in the IMS Bulletin

February 28, 2021

Starting in 2017, I have contributed a few articles to the Bulletin of the Institute of Mathematic Statistics. A common thread in these articles is an address to fellow statisticians to perceive their discipline as implying a commitment to serving the public by applying thoroughgoing skepticism in order to challenge conventional scientific wisdom, established truths and the scientific and political establishment. To some extent these posts cover ground that I have covered before (e.g., of course, sortition), but the writeup is always new and tailored specifically to an audience of statisticians. I must note that I have been disappointed with the generally muted response (one way or another) to my posts and this disappointment has resulted in reduced motivation and diminished output.

Here is an index to my IMS Bulletin columns over the last 4 years:

Pro Bono Statistics: Statistics in the Public Interest. April, 2017
Statistics, like all of science, is a tool of powerful institutions. In our societies these institutions are widely perceived as not serving the public. Statistics can cut against the grain and promote a habit of skepticism toward power. Such a habit should be part of the statistics curriculum.

Learning as the replication of knowledge. October 2017
The educational system in our society is built upon an implicit model seeing learning as an mechanical, uncreative activity. This model is false and its implicit adoption inflicts great harm on students, teachers and society.

Democracy and statistical sampling. February 2018
Offering sortition – government selected by statistical sampling – to an audience of statisticians.

Statisticians for Democracy: A call to action. November 2019
Allotted bodies are gradually gaining acceptance in the political arena and may have real political impact. It is thus increasingly important to get the associated sampling procedures right. Yet, current sampling practices are quite deficient for multiple reasons. I call on statisticians to create standards by which sampling procedures for allotted bodies can be evaluated to determine how reliable and useful they are.

When experts go wrong…. February 2021
Polling is difficult for various reasons (including low response rates). Ignoring this fact and publicizing the polls as if they are highly accurate is highly irresponsible. It reduces the confidence of the citizenry in the establishments of our society and is thus quite dangerous and must be avoided. (A response to a column by Jeffrey Rosenthal.)