Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Joy of Stats

Here's a treat for you: An hour-long television program on statistics.

Wait! Don't run away! First, it's a BBC production: excellent production values, good pacing, great footage. Also, the host, Hans Rosling, is exceedingly energetic, engaging and entertaining as he euphorically enthuses about how statistics can describe our world. This is easily worth one hour of your time. I've never liked statistics as a student, and I watched this straight through.

For a quick taste to see what you're in for, take a look at Rosling when he describes 200 years of the world in four minutes.

Update: changed the first link; now it hopefully works for everyone.


  1. I can't access the links... Youtube insists the first one is private and the second not available...

    Temporary glitch?

  2. That's frustrating; the original link works for me, but following the link via the blog does not :(

    I've noticed Roslings home page ( - some great stuff there) have a page for the video here: The Joy of Stats

    Does that link work for you? If so, I'll update the blog post with it.

  3. The link works fine.

  4. Just watched the Joy of Stats, and have a newfound respect for the field. Previously, had thought it was just the province of dullards and Victorians, little did Our Man realise the future of humanity is in its hands.

    And yet, something nags at Our Man's analogue consciousness. The softly spoken Californian prof at the end there talks a lot about relative happiness by measuring when people say "I feel happy". But whenever Our Man says that, he is being ironic, not happy.

    But I suppose there is a statistic for that too.

    Still, an enjoyable way to kill 3,600 seconds or so.

  5. Yes, the happiness guy at the end is the one part I wasn't thrilled about either.

    When you hear the pitches for enough research projects you start to figure out which ones have real scientific substance behind them, and which ones mostly consists of fast talk and a shiny media-grabbing package. This one definitely had the smell of the latter to me.

  6. Pretty impressive style to write them up.


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