Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bigger, better life expectancy tube maps!

It didn’t take long for spatialanalysis.co.uk to come along and take the award for this week’s best life-expectancy-on-tube-map. I hadn’t heard of the website before, I must admit. I am now going to be following it closely! Anyone who has a section on how they made the map gets my interest.

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Causal inference: one-day course

From an e-mail arrived yesterday – the team interested in causal inference at LSHTM are world-class so if you want to know more this would be a great starting point:

Studying pathways between social and biological factors: can modern methods in causal inference help?

When: Tuesday 11 September 2012

At:  56th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Social Medicine, 2012

Where: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT

Booking: http://www.ssmconference.org.uk/preconf.html

Timetable: http://pathways.lshtm.ac.uk/courses/coursedetails/

Price: From £30pp

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Life expectancy along the Central Line

It is July 2012, and the world’s thoughts turn to East London. I have often heard it said that every stop on the Central Line – part of the London Underground tube/subway/metro network – away from the centre costs the residents another year of life. This infographic is in the New Statesman courtesy of UCL.

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Stata Users Group London 2012

I am going to be speaking at the Stata Users’ Group meeting in London in September 2012, on “Producing animated graphs from Stata without having to learn any other software”. (The same thing can be done from other software too, producing tailor-made video files.) The programme will presumably be announced very soon, but you heard it here first. This meeting is one of the best of the year in my estimation, it has grown into an international conference really. It’s worth learning Stata just so you can attend!

This is the first apearance in public of my recent work on easy methods for producing animated graphs from data analysis / stats software. There will be more to follow, mainly through http://www.animatedgraphs.co.uk which is under construction.

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No stats in front of the children, please

The UK Schools Minister* has indicated that the role of statistics in maths education at primary school level will be greatly reduced, making way for more arithmetic.

In recent years, teaching statistics has become increasingly popular at many ages. My personal view is (necessary an unusual one as I am a professional statistician whose first degree was in maths) that the critical reasoning that is opened up by statistics is the real advantage a mathematical education will make for most people. Sure, some need to add up stuff in their heads quickly, but not so many of us nowadays rely on that to contribute effectively to society. Sure, some need a good dose of algebra, calculus and trig to be engineers or whatever. But the unique contribution from statistics is being able to think for yourself in public discourse about policy and evidence. That is very useful indeed – the caveat being that it is a different thing entirely to memorising the definition of a standard deviation or how to do a chi-squared test by hand. That sort of stuff is forgotten in the first week of the summer holidays, but the critical reasoning is what we really need. Imagine a generation that are not taken in by scary headlines about MMR and autism, or fooled by would-be politicians claiming that the Netherlands is now under sharia law. (Both got claimed, both were lies, some people still believe them.) So, OK, teach arithmetic. 7×8… that one still takes me a few seconds. But make sure you catch up on the stats at secondary school, and do it properly!

The only down side is that as they get more stats-savvy, future generations of university students will get less impressed by my lectures and will ask me questions I don’t know the answer to. Like 7×8…

* – grammar school educated, before you ask. And an accountant, which I contend is professionally very similar to being a statistician, but obviously uses a lot less brain power 😉

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Are there two different types of attrition from cohort studies?

I am going to be showing a poster at the Royal Statistical Society conference 2012 on this subject. It comes from work done with my colleague Gill Mein on the Whitehall II study and has implications for planning longitudinal health studies, both practical and ethical. Come and say hello if you are going to be there!

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2012/13 courses announced by CASS

The University of Southampton has just announced new courses run by CASS (Courses in Applied Social Surveys) with some really good ones in there. Personally, I am thinking of going to the structural equations model course… and I believe there will soon be an event history analysis course announced too.

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