Relevant statistics you can trust

If you have not noticed it yet, 2013 is the International Year of Statistics. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Statistics New Zealand invited me to speak at a breakfast event on the trustworthiness of statistics. [...]

Language competence is a benefit

For countries whose official language is English, there may not be the immediate business imperative to learn other languages since world trade is dominated by English. Despite this, other English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are realising the benefits of language instruction and promoting second languages at school. [...]

Britain’s phoney pursuit of happiness

The rise of politicians talking about ‘happiness’ and ‘general well-being’ is a new European fad with similar initiatives also undertaken by Nicolas Sarkozy in France and Angela Merkel in Germany. But you don’t have to be a cynic to detect their ulterior motives. ‘Happiness’ is either used as a political repositioning tool for politicians wishing to appear as caring, or it is used in countries that have given up hope on future economic growth and seek different measures to feign success. [...]

An end to all lists

There is something irresistible about measuring things, especially when it comes to country comparisons and international rankings. Yet not all measurement is scientific, and not all statistics really broaden our understanding. [...]

An end to all lists

What a miserable place Australia must be if it finds itself behind a bankrupt economy and a country left ungovernable by the financial crisis. However, we may feel a bit better because Australia did not need to be bailed out by the IMF, nor did our capital cities see rallies of angry citizens which recently brought Dublin to a standstill. [...]

Measuring the unmeasurable

Science requires measurement. But not all measurement is scientific. The newest example is the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- a compilation of data on the alleged state of the environment in 133 countries. [...]
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