Friday March 16, 2pm, Carslaw 173
School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW, Sydney, Australia
The importance of statistics in shaping public policy
Statisticians have an important role to play in shaping public policy. Public discourse can often be divisive and emotive, and it can be difficult for the uninitiated to sift through the morass of "fake" and "real" news. Decisions need to be well-informed and statisticians should be leaders in identifying relevant data for a testable hypothesis using appropriate methodology. It is also important for a statistician to identify when the data or methods used are not up to the task or when there is too much uncertainty to make accurate decisions. I will discuss some examples from my own research. This includes, in ascending order of controversy, graduated licensing schemes, claims made by Australian politicians, gun control, and bicycle helmet laws. I will also discuss some methodological challenges in evaluating interventions including regression to the mean for Poisson processes.
Associate Professor Jake Olivier is a member of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW Sydney. He is originally from New Orleans and spent many years living in Mississippi for graduate school and early academic appointments. A/Prof Olivier is the incoming president of the NSW Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia and immediate past chair of the Biostatistics Section. He serves on the editorial boards of BMJ Open, PLOS ONE, Cogent Medicine and the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety. His research interests are cycling safety, the analysis of categorical data and methods for evaluating public health interventions.