School of Business talk to ask whether statistics matter in a world of fake news

For an upcoming lecture, National Statistician John Pullinger will discuss how statistical communication between those creating and using statistics can be improved.

Part of the Dean’s Lecture Series, John's lecture, entitled ‘Fake News: Time to Take Back Control’ will ask, if we are producing better and better statistics, capturing the complex reality of the world around us, is the message getting across? Do people value statistics? Do they believe them? John will argue that improving statistical communication between those creating and using statistics is ever more important.

John Pullinger started as the National Statistician, Head of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority in July 2014. He has also been Chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC). In this capacity has been greatly involved in the development of measures for the Sustainable Development Goals.

After several statistical roles in different departments, John joined the Central Statistical Office as a senior civil servant in 1992. He was the project manager for the creation of the Office for National Statistics and was the policy lead on the development of the GSS. He has worked on diverse projects and topics, including responsibility for flagship publications like 'Social Trends', leading the neighbourhood statistics programme as well as being actively involved in the creation of the Statistics Commission and National Statistics in 2000.

In 2004, John became the 14th librarian to the House of Commons. He continued to be involved in the statistical community and took up the presidency of the Royal Statistical Society on 1 January 2013.

The Dean’s Lecture Series features invited speakers who are regarded as leaders in the areas of management, economics, finance and business. Hosted by the Dean, Professor Zoe Radnor, the lectures take place three times each year. The theme of each lecture is chosen for its topicality and relevance to the understanding of contemporary economics and management, with each speaker being an influential leader in their field.

Professor Radnor explains further: “We use this lecture series as a platform to bring distinguished speakers and practitioners to Leicester and to address issues that are topical and pertinent to society. We hold these lectures throughout the year and hope as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate.

“We are delighted to have John visiting us for the first event of the year. As a leading figure in the world of statistics with a distinguished career we anticipate that he will share his wisdom with us.

“Living in a world of ‘fake news,’ misleading, manipulated or misused statistics can be powerful in shaping opinions. Improving statistical communication is therefore increasingly important and we are looking forward to what John has to say. We hope you will come along and ask any questions that you might have about how statistics are used to explain the world around us.”