Uncertainty, Information, and Narrative: A Statistical Perspective on Scientific Storytelling
Thursday, March 28
Giant Eagle Auditorium (Baker Hall A51)
Maurice Falk Professor of Statistics and Computational Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University
Rejection of science is partly a failure of narrative. In my view, an important cause of this failure is the general public's discomfort with uncertainty and the procedural nature of scientific knowledge, but these are central to the everyday business of statistics. Using examples from neuroscience, history, and the "bible codes" controversy, I will review several of the most basic statistical lessons for our citizenry, indicating the way these lessons could inform narratives. I will also describe some constraints on statistical narratives, and I will ask what we can learn by comparing narratives across different domains. Warning: these are thoughts-in-progress.