Data

OK Cupid, an online dating site, has caused a bit of a stir recently about performing experiments on their users. But even without the ethical questions there’s reason to be skeptical about what their data can actually tell us.

Big Data, the book by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, talks about two phenomena they believe will drive a big data revolution: ‘Digital exhaust’ and ‘N equals all’. The first refers to the trail of information we leave behind when using the internet that are the residue of clicks and typing. Read more

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In news that will delight statisticians everywhere the distinction between the mean and the median finally has the political profile it deserves.

Yesterday Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK statistical authority, wrote a letter clarifying an ongoing debate between Labour and Conservative politicians on waiting times in accident and emergency rooms. Read more

Keith Fray

The UK economy has finally recovered. Today’s estimate by the Office for National Statistics of gross domestic product for the second quarter takes output (adjusted for inflation) to a new high, above the level of the first quarter of 2008*.

Hurrah. But, although welcome, this is nothing to celebrate. The government will not be ordering church bells to be rung. That the sum total of everything produced in the economy is only now returning to the levels of six years ago is astonishing. To give some context, the recession and recovery have lasted about nine months longer than the second world war. Read more

Trust in institutions to use data is much lower than trust in them in general, according to a new survey for the Royal Statistical Society.

The poll of just over two thousand British adults carried out by Ipsos MORI found that the media, internet services such as social media and search engines and telecommunication companies were the least trusted to use personal data appropriately. Read more

Water scarcity is starting to hit the balance sheets of multinationals, who have spent more than $84bn managing their water usage in the last three years.

The Financial Times has gathered data on 78 corporate water projects around the globe, including desalination plants, hydroelectric power stations and river course modification. Read more