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Trustworthy communication of data and evidence: the vital piece of policymaking

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Each year, the Department of Politics and International Studies and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy are pleased to host the Cambridge Public Policy Lecture.

In 2022, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter delivered a lecture on Trustworthy communication of data and evidence: the vital piece of policymaking.

The current pandemic has emphasised the key role that statistics play in understanding what is going on around us, whether we are citizens or policy-makers.  But can we trust all these claims?  

David Spiegelhalter looks at the ways statistics can be used to persuade audiences to think or act in a certain way, and contrasts this with efforts to make communication ‘trustworthy’. 

In particular, are communicators trying to inform, or persuade? Are they providing balance, and acknowledging uncertainties and limitations in the evidence? And are they doing enough to pre-emptively counter misinformation?

The event was chaired by Dr Cristina Peñasco, University Lecturer in Public Policy at POLIS.

About the speaker:

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE is Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, which aims to improve the way that statistical evidence is used by health professionals, patients, lawyers and judges, media and policy-makers. He has been very busy over the Covid crisis.

He presented the BBC4 documentaries “Tails you Win: the Science of Chance”, the award-winning “Climate Change by Numbers”. His bestselling book, The Art of Statistics, was published in March 2019, and Covid by Numbers came out in September 2021. His career highlights include appearing on Desert Island Discs in 2022, and in 2011 coming seventh in an episode of BBC1’s Winter Wipeout.

David was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics, was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2017-2018), and became a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority in 2020.  

Twitter: @d_spiegel

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