Keynote sneak-peak: Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

Published on Thu, 23/09/2021 - 13:38
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

Trustworthy communication amid risk and uncertainty will be at the core of Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter’s message at the Airmic Conference in Brighton.

The Airmic Conference 2021 will kick off with a keynote from Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

He will address the first day of the event in Brighton on 5-6 October, with a presentation focused on the importance of trustworthy communication.

Spiegelhalter’s position at Cambridge, as the Winton Centre is focused on the way that statistical evidence is used by health professionals, patients, lawyers and judges, media and policy-makers.

“At the Airmic meeting I will talk about the importance of trustworthy communication, particularly when risk and uncertainty are involved. Which they almost always are,” he tells Airmic News.

“‘Experts’ would like to be trusted, but first they must demonstrate trustworthiness by being open about what they know and don’t know, listening to audiences’ concerns, but also pre-empting misunderstandings.”

The speaking  topic carries particularly weight amid the past year’s Covid-19 pandemic, a period which has been particularly busy for Spiegelhalter.

He presented the BBC4 documentaries “Tails you Win: the Science of Chance”, the award-winning “Climate Change by Numbers”, and in 2011 came 7th in an episode of BBC1’s Winter Wipeout

“The pandemic has provided a perfect opportunity to practice evidence-informed decision-making,” Spiegelhalter says.

“But the phrase ‘following the science’ is inappropriate - the science cannot tell us what to do, as we always need to take the bigger picture into account. It can just try and explain what is going on , and make some tentative judgements about what may happen if certain actions are taken,” he adds.

His bestselling book, The Art of Statistics, was published in March 2019. He was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics, was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2017-2018), and became a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority in 2020.

To find out more about what’s in store at the Airmic Conference 2021, please click here.