ASA Headlines

ASA Unveils Statistics Careers Promotional Toolkit

ASA Unveils Statistics Careers Promotional Toolkit The ASA, through its This is Statistics public awareness campaign, prepared a promotional toolkit that chapters, sections, college statistics departments, and individual association members can use to introduce students at the college and high-school levels to careers in statistics. The toolkit resources can be used at high-school or college career days, department open houses, employer information sessions, or other events at which students gather to learn about fields of study and careers. It is available for download from the This is Statistics website. Click here to view the promotional toolkit. Contact Jeff Myers with questions.

Does Fracking Lead to Smaller Babies?

The newest article takes a look at research showing an association between fracking wells and small for gestational age (SGA) babies. While the media uses words like “association,” which has a technical meaning in statistics, many people, in this case, will have understood “association”—and, more importantly “linked”—as “fracking causes smaller babies.” Author Rebecca Goldin says an observational study like this one cannot prove causality; it can only find the numbers are skewed from what you'd expect if low birthweight were a random occurrence. She adds observational studies are notorious for spurious and meaningless outcomes without clear reasons. Read more.

Significance Article Offers Roadmap to Fight Reproducibility Crisis

Significance Article Offers Roadmap to Fight Reproducibility Crisis Dramatic increases in data science education coupled with robust evidence-based data analysis practices could stop the scientific research reproducibility and replication crisis before the issue permanently damages science's credibility, asserts Johns Hopkins University's Roger Peng in an article in the newly released issue of Significance magazine. "Much the same way that epidemiologist John Snow helped end a London cholera epidemic by convincing officials to remove the handle of an infected water pump, we have an opportunity to attack the crisis of scientific reproducibility at its source," wrote Peng. Read more.

Battleground State Polling Worked Until 2012 Election

A statistical analysis of polling performance in battleground states over the last three presidential elections shows polling firms produced estimates that were fairly accurate in 2004 and 2008, but underestimated support for President Obama in 2012, a new Statistics and Public Policy article reports. The authors-Ole Forsberg and Mark Payton of Oklahoma State University—believe the culprit in 2012 may have roots in "outdated and possibly flawed sampling methodology" that omitted cellphone-only households and led to state-focused polls overestimating support for Republican Mitt Romney. Read more.

Data, Democracy, and Janet Norwood

That's the title of an online tribute that honors the memory and contributions of past ASA President Janet Norwood, who passed away in March, and her commitment to a strong statistical system. Writes Howard Silver, who previously served as the executive director of the Consortium of Social Sciences Agencies: “... Data are indeed the lifeblood of a democratic society. Making decisions without data soils the public policy process with ideology, partisan politics, and misinformation–all things Janet Norwood abhorred. Her voice, commitment, and professionalism will be sorely missed.” Read more.

Follow This is Statistics on Social Media

Follow This is Statistics on Social Media If you are not currently following This is Statistics–the ASA's public awareness campaign-on social media, now is the time to do so. We're going to be making a couple major announcements in the coming weeks, and you will not want to miss the exciting news. So, go to Facebook and Twitter to like and follow, respectively, the campaign today. Once you start getting its messages, be sure to share them with your social media networks-both work and personal. Your shares will help build awareness of the campaign and the growth of statistics career opportunities.

New Entry Provides Statistics Tips to Reporters

    In a new article, Kristin Sainani, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University, shared with reporters what to look for when reading research comparing two groups. She advises journalists to ask the following questions:

  1. Are the appropriate groups being compared?
  2. Is the difference between the groups statistically significant?
  3. Is the difference between the groups big enough to care about?
  4. Are the authors justified in making any causal claims for the differences between the two groups?

  5. If you have statistics tips for reporters you want to share, go to the website to submit your idea. Read more.

Fox named President's Invited Speaker for JSM

Fox named President's Invited Speaker for JSM Christine Fox, assistant director for policy and analysis at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, has been selected by ASA President David Morganstein to deliver the President's Invited Address at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings. Fox, who as acting deputy secretary of defense was the highest-ranking civilian woman ever to serve in the Department of Defense, will present a talk titled "The Role of Analysis in Supporting Strategic Decisions." "Among the keys to being successful in supporting strategic decision-making, she will mention being timely, being relevant and very importantly communicating clearly," said Morganstein. Read more. Article Examines Future of War Article Examines Future of War The latest article on—the Sense About Science USA-ASA partnership striving to improve media coverage of statistical matters—takes a look at a recent paper about the future of war that was widely reported in the media. In it, Michael Spagat counters the main assertion of the paper's authors, writing: "The authors declare that the risk of huge wars hasn't really changed over two millennia of war and that they will stick with this belief until enough of a particular type of slowly accumulating evidence appears to refute it. This stance may be fine for them, but other people will wish to incorporate other evidence into their judgments of the risks we face." If you see an article with weak statistical reasoning or a writer who presented statistics properly and should be applauded, share it with

Statisticians Help Iowa State Secure Forensic Science Center

As part of the national effort to strengthen the scientific basis for forensic evidence used in the criminal justice system, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded Iowa State University up to $20 million over five years to establish a forensic science center of excellence. To be led by Alicia Carriquiry, the center is a partnership that includes prominent statisticians Stephen Fienberg, Karen Kafadar, Hal Stern—from Carnegie Mellon University; University of Virginia; and the University of California, Irvine, respectively. The center will focus on improving the statistical foundation for fingerprint, firearm, toolmark, dental, and other pattern evidence analyses and for computer, video, audio, and other digital evidence analyses. Read more from Iowa State and NIST.

Winner of Free ASA Membership

Winner of Monthly Drawing for FREE ASA Membership Congratulations to Jacquelyn Lykken, winner of the May drawing for FREE ASA membership.


Other Recent Headlines

ASA Announces 62 New Fellows

Sixty-two ASA members have been bestowed the title of Fellow by the association. Honorees are being recognized for outstanding professional contributions to and leadership in the field of statistical science. "Each newly designated fellow has distinguished him or herself through the advancement of statistical theory, methodology and applications as well as service to the ASA and now rightfully is recognized as a preeminent contributor to the field of statistical science." They will be presented certificates at a ceremony August 11 at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings in Seattle. Read more.

World Statistics Day 2015 is October 20

During World Statistics Day 2015 on October 20, the global statistical community will showcase its achievements and ongoing work that is helping to better the lives of people around the world. To launch this special event, the United Nations Statistics Division has created a website and released a kick-off video that unveils the celebration's logo. The UN encourages the statistical community to embrace this international observance and showcase its achievements and current work to achieve “Better data. Better lives.”—the celebration's theme. The ASA will participate in the celebration. Follow World Statistics Day on Twitter at #StatsDay15. Learn more.

Significance Devoting October Issue to World Statistics Day

To mark World Statistics Day in October, Significance will devote its October issue to articles that highlight the important contributions statistics is making in different parts of the world. It plans to publish one article from each of the main geographic regions: North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. “We are particularly keen that articles published about the developing world do not fall into the “bad news” trap—that is, focusing only on stories of war, death, disease, poverty, and natural disasters,” says Significance Editor Brian Tarran. Instead, the magazine is seeking tales of interesting work and novel applications of statistics from parts of the planet that are too often overlooked by the media, he adds. Please send article ideas or recommendations for potential contributors to Tarran at

NSF Report Examines Future of Survey Research

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) report, titled "The Future of Survey Research: Challenges and Opportunities," examines the future of survey research. It offers recommendations the agency can implement to promote data collection and distribution standardization in its major surveys. The study's many recommendations also will be helpful to the survey profession by addressing cutting-edge issues in how best to collect, analyze, and disseminate survey data and identifying opportunities for future research into practices with which to further enhance survey methods. Read the report.

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