Dr Thomas Lumley

Per capita, in mice. 

StatsChat (statschat.org.nz) is the blog of the University of Auckland Department of Statistics, centred around statistics in the media. The blog was started in 2013, aiming to raise the public profile of the department and to provide useful examples for statistics teachers. Somewhat unexpectedly, journalists have also become an important audience. Dr Lumley says he had expected the main topics to be uncertainty and confounding, and while these do come up, in fact the use of appropriate denominators has been the most important statistical issue. He has written posts about the over-interpretation of biomedical and health research in the news, and whether this is attributable to reporters or to researchers and their public relations offices (it’s a mixture). In this presentation, he will explore what statistics in the media say about public understanding of statistics and science, and what the success of the blog says about interest in these topics.


Thomas Lumley grew up in Melbourne, then spent 15 years in Seattle before moving to Auckland as a Professor in the Statistics Department at the University of Auckland. He specialises in the design and analysis of medical studies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the American Statistical Association, and is a member of the R Core Development Team. He’s on twitter as @tslumley