Communicating statistics to the general public

One of the problem data miners are often confronted is how to present statistics to the general audience. It can be the public, other researchers, decision makers, etc. This issue is discussed in a recent article in Decision Science News entitled “Some ideas on communicating risks to the general public”. The article discusses issues when sharing probabilities, conditional probabilities, risks, frequencies, etc. with the public.

The author provides excellent examples to show how probabilities can be ambiguous. A simple statement such as “The probability that it will rain on January 1st is 30%” is already ambiguous. It can be interpreted in several different ways. In addition, it is not clear what rain means (one drop, one minute of rain, etc.).

The author also explains conditional probabilities with a simple example: cancer statistics. He writes that, given the needed numbers, most doctors fail when asking to estimate the probability that a person from the population who tests positive actually has cancer. I think this is quite scarying that the people reading and interpreting medical results don’t know how to come to these results.

Read the full article and tell us your opinion about it.

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Comments Icon2 comments found on “Communicating statistics to the general public

  1. Hello. Yesterday I found two new books about Data mining. These series of books entitled by ‘Data Mining’ address the need by presenting in-depth description of novel mining algorithms and many useful applications. In addition to understanding each section deeply, the two books present useful hints and strategies to solving problems in the following chapters.The progress of data mining technology and large public popularity establish a need for a comprehensive text on the subject. Books are: “New Fundamental Technologies in Data Mining” here http://www.intechopen.com/books/show/title/new-fundamental-technologies-in-data-mining & “Knowledge-Oriented Applications in Data Mining” here http://www.intechopen.com/books/show/title/knowledge-oriented-applications-in-data-mining These are open access books so you can download it for free or just read on online reading platform like I do. Cheers!

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