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
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
In case you’ve forgotten, England did take part in the 2014 World Cup. But despite uncharacteristically low expectations from the watching English public, Roy Hodgson’s side slunk under this low bar, flying home after two defeats and a goalless draw with the global footballing powerhouse Costa Rica.
What went wrong? Countless theories abound – some better than others – but some relatively simple maths may be able to explain at least one of the factors involved: statistically speaking, England were bereft of luck. Read more
The offensive of insurgent groups led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) has taken Iraq to the brink of a sectarian civil war. Iraq’s army buckled under the advance last week, allowing Sunni militants to over-run major towns and cities, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
While Isis aims to wipe away post-colonial borders to create an Islamic state across much of Syria and Iraq, it joined with other Sunni insurgent groups opposed to the Shia government in Baghdad. With Kurds in northern Iraq also seeing an opportunity to consolidate greater autonomy, the crisis theatens Iraq’s very existence. Read more