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We all need some understanding of statistics, in other words, we need to be statistically literate. This page explains what this means and why it's important.
Statistics is defined as ‘numbers that have been collected in order to provide information’ or ‘the science of collecting and analysing these numbers’. (Oxford Learner's Dictionary)
Statistical literacy is the ability to make sense of numerical information or data.
Statistical literacy: a short introduction - W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project (opens in a new window.)
Statistical literacy – University of Wollongong (opens in a new window.)
Explains the what, why and how of statistical literacy; includes three interactive modules.
We live in the information age and much of this information is in the form of numerical data, e.g. customer surveys, political polls, economic predictions, sales forecasts, the Consumer Price Index, not to mention health, education, housing and sports statistics!
In fact, there’s so much information available that it's becoming increasingly difficult to make sense of it and use it make informed decisions.
Statistics is a tool to help us cope with this information overload and understand the story behind the numbers.
Statistical literacy is also important for tertiary studies. Depending on the course you’re studying you may be required to:
Not convinced of the value of statistical literacy? Perhaps these video clips will help…
200 countries, 200 years, 120,000 numbers – Hans Rosling, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, BBC Four (4:48 mins; opens in a new window.)
Hans makes magic with stats to show how complex relationships change over time. This video clip is taken from:
The joy of stats – Hans Rosling; Wingspan Productions, BBC, 2010. (Opens in a new window.)
A BBC documentary on statistics and data visualisation, and how statistics can change our understanding of the world around us.
Understanding uncertainty - Winton programme for the public understanding of risk, Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge. (Opens in a new window)
Helps to make sense of chance, risk, luck, uncertainty and probability.
Statistics New Zealand Tatauranga Aotearoa (Opens in a new window.)
Provides economic, environmental, fiscal, population, and social statistics.
Statisphere (Opens in a new window.)
New Zealand’s the official statistics portal.
UN data - The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (Opens in a new window.)
An internet-based data service for the global user community.