Press release

Latest 'Big Picture' explores how statistics help us understand the world

What does it mean to say eating red meat may increase your risk of cancer by 11 per cent? When is a ‘positive’ result in a medical test probably not a positive? And are there really only 100 cod left in the North Sea?

The latest issue of 'Big Picture', the Wellcome Trust's free educational resource for teachers and learners, is all about making sense of numbers - helping to make it easier to see how statistics and science can be used to understand the world.

‘Big Picture: Number Crunching’ explores what makes 'good' science, the different ways to present the results of experiments, and how statistics can be used to understand and interpret data. It looks at how people relate to risk and probability, and busts some myths in a Q&A column.

There are also real-life case studies of how statistics can be misinterpreted or misrepresented in the media, courts and advertising. In this issue's 'Real voices' feature, three people explain how they use biology and statistics in their jobs.

There are lots of other accompanying educational resources online, including a short film in which A-level students use a chi-squared test to see whether fingerprint type is related to sex, real-life 'In the Zone' data and a worksheet to use in lessons, a worked-through example of a chi-squared test and a presentation on how to draw a histogram. Readers are also directed to other useful statistics resources available elsewhere, related to how science works, statistical tests, graphs, probability, risk and more.

This issue and all past issues are available for free online, along with all the extra online content. The Wellcome Trust Education and Learning Team will be distributing the magazine and other teaching resources at the Association for Science Education's Summer Conference on 27 and 28 June 2013.