Statistics, Politics, and Policy

The Berkeley Electronic Press launches a new journal:

The increasing amount and complexity of available data is constantly creating new challenges for statistical thinking in policy problems. While many academic statisticians tend to share among themselves their latest methods and models, less attention has been paid to the usefulness of those statistical methods and models to inform public policy decisions, and what statistical approaches might be most effective in designing how policies are implemented. In the policy sphere, statistical methods are sometimes taken as a given, with less attention to all the variations, assumptions, and effects of different methods in differing contexts. But it is in the policy sphere that statistical debates can have the great value and impact, and the intersection of statistics and public policy is a fertile ground for statistical research and analysis to address important policy issues that may have widespread ramifications.

As an electronic journal, Statistics, Politics, and Policy will use a mix of voices and approaches to reach a broad audience. The journal aims to open avenues of communication between statisticians and policy makers on questions that pique the interest of the public. The journal will appeal to statisticians, policy analysts, and anyone interested in the implicit yet powerful ways that statistical thinking influences decisions that affect many aspects of public life.

The debut issue features an article by Indiana mathematician Russell Lyons attacking the statistical basis of widely-publicized research results on “social contagion” effects on obesity, addiction, and other social ills.

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One thought on “Statistics, Politics, and Policy

  1. Nigel says:

    I’m very glad to see Lyons’ article published, but dismayed by how top medical journals, willing to publish Christakis and Fowler, rejected Lyons without even peer review. My daughter’s UW sociology/psychology classes teach C&F as fact, placing her in a difficult position. Thanks for mentioning Lyons’ work – I hope it gets broader coverage.

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