Centre for Statistics

2020 David Finney Lecture presented by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter presented this year's David Finney Lecture on Communicating statistics, risk and uncertainty in the age of Covid.


It is claimed we live in a ‘post-truth’ society in which emotional responses dominate balanced consideration of evidence. This presents a strong challenge to those who value quantitative and scientific evidence: How can we communicate statistics, risks and unavoidable scientific uncertainty in a transparent and trustworthy way? Prof. Spiegelhalter, who has been advising the government in its response to COVID, talked about the challenges of communicating during the epidemic and asked: Can we communicate deeper uncertainty about facts, numbers, or scientific hypotheses without losing trust and credibility?


Prof. Spiegelhalter presenting the lecture
Prof. Spiegelhalter presenting the lecture

The talk was the Centre for Statistics’ 4th David Finney Lecture, an annual event that aims to highlight exceptional research - and an exceptional person - in the field of applied statistics. Whilst rescheduled due to COVID, the reorganised online event attracted an extremely engaged audience of over 900 people watching it Live via Zoom and a Youtube livestream.


Prof. Spiegelhalter was introduced by Prof.  Peter Mathieson (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, UoE) and Dr. Miguel De Carvalho (Director of the CfS); Prof. Ruth King (Thomas Bayes' Chair of Statistics, UoE) hosted the Q&A session. The event was sponsored by the International Biometric Society (IBS) and hosted by the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS).


Watch the lecture online