Want proof that data illiteracy is a problem? Talk to a member of Congress

If I could change one thing about our education system, I’d emphasize at all grade levels a set of skills you might call “data literacy” — a combination of things like numeracy, basic statistics, and generally the ability to think about quantitative data coherently.

Until we get this, I’ll just have to dream of the day when it would be surprising to hear a member of Congress say

In the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.

Kudos to the reporter for following this sentence immediately with the following one-sentence paragraph:

In fact, the randomness of the survey is precisely what makes the survey scientific, statistical experts say.


Published by

Ted Bunn

I am chair of the physics department at the University of Richmond. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate physics courses, I work on a variety of research projects in cosmology, the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. University of Richmond undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research. If you want to know more about my research, ask me!