En Words

A place to talk about words - whether from books, stories, magazines, brochures, or matchbook covers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

UK Statistics Watchdog Goes Out Fighting

The UK government is disbanding its Statistics Commission, which is a shame because the group apparently fought against political use of statistics, according to an FT story:
Allegations about the politicisation of data have intensified throughout the years of New Labour rule – most recently with last week’s issue of national figures showing thousands of children had not won entry into their first-choice state school.

Critics of Ed Balls, schools secretary, accused him of trying to deflect attention from the statistics by simultaneously reporting that “a significant minority” of schools were breaking new admissions rules.

The commission has written to Mr Balls’ department and stressed the release of official figures should be “seen to be independent from policy comment”.
The government set up the commission in 2000 "to improve trust in government figures." The question is whether it didn't do its job well enough or entirely too well. A new UK Statistics Authority replaces it next month.

A group devoted to making politicians come clean on their use of statistics. More than a full-time job, I'd bet.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Wikipedia Work Slows

For various technical reasons, Wikipedia has not compiled statistics on the English version for about a year, now. However, someone decided to analyze log files and the edit histories of 6% of all 118,793 articles - which, if taken completely at random, would be a statistically significant cut. The result? The rate of edits peaked in April 2007 and have been declining since. This is apparently a big difference, as edits had before been climbing exponentially. Article creation topped out in early 2006. Does this mean we've come to the end of human knowledge, or is it a case of all the knows that's fit this print?

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