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International Year of Statistics Press Release

created 10  Jan  2013

The American Statistical Association (ASA) and more than 1,400 organizations in 111 countries are combining energies in 2013 to promote the International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013), a worldwide initiative that will highlight the contributions of the statistics field to finding solutions to global challenges.

The goals of this awareness campaign are to:

  • Increase public understanding of the power and impact of statistics on all aspects of society
  • Nurture statistics as a profession, especially among high-school and college students

Statistics2013 participants are national and international professional societies, universities, schools, businesses, government agencies and research institutes. These groups will help millions of people understand the value of statistical science through seminars, workshops and outreach to students and the media.

Statistics-the science of learning from data and of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty-is much more than numbers on sports pages. "Statistical science has powerful and far-reaching effects on everyone, yet most people are unaware of how it improves their lives," says ASA Executive Director Ronald L. Wasserstein, a former statistics professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.

"For most people, statistics is an invisible science," continues Wasserstein. "Through this yearlong, worldwide awareness campaign, we will remove the veil that cloaks statistics from the public consciousness."

Examples of the impact of statistics abound in our society. For instance, statistics predicts weather and other natural hazards, powers Internet search engines and marketing campaigns, discovers and develops new drugs and makes the world secure and sustainable. Throughout the last two centuries, statistics was indispensable in confirming many of humankind's greatest scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, such as the Higgs-Boson particle and the agricultural Green Revolution.

Today, statistics is improving the quality of human life on the world's major continents:

  • Africa-Statistical analysis is reversing the cycle of poverty by improving literacy.
  • Asia-Transportation infrastructure is being improved based on statistical models of people flow.
  • Australia-Statistics was key in catching drug cheats during the 27th Olympic Games in 2000.
  • Europe-Statistical science is a critical tool in planning efficient recycling systems.
  • North America-Statistics is synthesizing evidence that improves treatments for heart conditions.
  • South America-Statistical methods are helping to feed the world by identifying new crop varieties in breeding experiments.

"Our world is increasingly data-rich and data-dependent. Statistical analysis extracts information from this voluminous data to form the basis for decision-making in all types of organizations," explains asserstein. "Without statistics, life would be very different."

Central features of the Statistics2013 awareness campaign are its website-www.statistics2013.org-and an informative two-and-a-half-minute video-Why Statistics Is Important to You-that explains how tatistics improves the lives of the world's 7 billion people. The website includes the following:

  • What Is Statistics? - An explanation in layman's language
  • Stats2013AtSchool - A statistics quiz for students
  • Statistics as a Career - Information about the work of statisticians and careers in statistics
  • Teacher Resources - Primary and secondary school resources, a downloadable flyer and posters

The founding organizations of Statistics2013 are the ASA, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, International Biometric Society, International Statistical Institute (and the Bernoulli Society), and Royal Statistical Society.

About the American Statistical Association Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the American Statistical Association is the world's largest community of statisticians and the second-oldest continuously operating professional society in the United States. For more than 170 years, the ASA has supported excellence in the development, application and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation and advocacy. Its members serve in industry, government and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. For additional information about the American Statistical Association, please visit the ASA website at www.amstat.org or call (703) 684-1221.

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