# Issue 18 | June 2013

## Number Crunching

Statistics can seem daunting, but don’t panic! This issue shows how we can use maths to understand more about the world around us. Join us as we explore how to use stats to summarise data, see whether our figures are significant and put our findings into context, so we can make decisions based on evidence rather than opinion.

Download the PDF, browse through the individual articles, check out our multimedia content and consider our lesson ideas. We’ve also picked out content from other issues that we think is especially relevant.

## How science works

### Beating bias

How researchers try to reduce bias

### The null hypothesis

Why scientists need to show the null hypothesis is false to show a scientiﬁc hypothesis is true

### Sturdy studies

How to recognise good research

### Look at the evidence

Why evidence is central to science

### Grand designs

Why the design of your experiment will depend on the question you’re asking

### Types of medical study

Find out about the different types of study and analysis used in medical research

## Making sense of stats

### Just about average

Find out about the different types of average

### Defining data

Find out about the different ways researchers define data

### Graphically thinking

Using graphs and diagrams to show data

### A number of significance

Why signiﬁcance has a special meaning in stats

### What is normal?

Many datasets about everyday biological examples follow a normal distribution

### Choose your method

Explore different statistical tests

### Jumping to conclusions

Why it’s important to take care with correlation

### Take a chance

Nobody lives a risk-free life

### Living the (micro) life

Micromorts allow us to quantify the risk of different life events

### Life-changing findings?

Why people respond to risk in different ways

### Are you absolutely sure?

Why risk should be reported responsibly

### Calculate your odds

Why our gut reactions to probability aren’t always correct

## Stats Q&A

### Lottery numbers

Understanding the stats: you can’t increase your chance of winning the Lottery, but you might increase the amount you win

### Absolute truth

Understanding the stats: ‘truth’ in science

### Natural causes: carrot juice

Understanding the stats: how bias can skew reports of medical ‘successes’

### Driving discounts

Understanding the stats: women drivers and insurance discounts

### Smoking gun

Understanding the stats: why you can’t get meaningful data from a small sample size

### Probably positive

Understanding the stats: no medical test is 100 per cent accurate

## When stats go bad

### Take care with your wording

“Just 100 cod left in North Sea” – why it’s important to be precise with your vocabulary

### Take care with your calculations

“Chance of cot deaths in brothers ‘1 in 73 million'” – how the misuse of statistics in court can have profound consequences

### Take care with your claims

“Lifescan, like an MOT for your body” – why claims in adverts can be misleading

### Take care with your sample

“Recommended by 93% of Red readers” – why the way data is collected matters

### Why risk should be reported responsibly

Is it ever morally acceptable to ‘spin’ information about risk to try to inﬂuence people’s behaviour?

## Practical help

### Video: Chi-squared test

Our video investigates what types of fingerprints people have

### Different statistical tests

Why the type of data you’re dealing with will determine the best statistical test to use

### Representing data visually

Links to websites with useful information, guides and videos on different ways to represent data visually

## Real Voices interviews

### Real Voices interview: Vicky Peterkin

Vicky Peterkin is a senior biostatistician at a pharmaceutical company

### Real Voices interview: Dr David Colthurst

Dr David Colthurst is a biology teacher leading a project to do scientific research in schools

### Real Voices interview: Dr Anthony Underwood

Dr Anthony Underwood is a bioinformatician at Public Health England

## Activities and lesson ideas

### Video: Chi-squared test

Our video investigates what types of fingerprints people have

### Lesson ideas for ‘Big Picture: Number Crunching’

Suggestions for how to use this issue of ‘Big Picture’ in your classroom

### Ideas for further research

Suggestions for how students doing the Extended Project Qualification can take statistics to the next level

### Further resources and activities on statistics in science

The Wellcome Trust has funded other organisations that produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about using and understanding data

## Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.