Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Doctor Hans Rosling And The Joy Of Stats

"Simplicity and economy of thought can be achieved by adhering to a few standard tools,"
William Feller, An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications, p. 26

It is not often that the Oracle of Ottawa see's something on television anymore that is uplifting. And when it does occur, it must be commented upon and praised. The rare occasion was provided by TV Ontario on Sunday night, last. The show was entitled The Joy of Stats and it was hosted by a most optimistic and enthusiastic Hans Rosling. A show that was about the history and power of statistics! Compared to the drivel that TV Ontario has been running in the last years, this must be in total error! Why it was like TV Ontario in the 1970's! Perfectly produced and esoteric. Why, just the way I like my television!

The Joy of Stats - really...

It all really reminded me of John Kenneth Galbraith, and his wonderful series The Age of Uncertainty, which the Oracle has seen countless times and still hopes for the BBC to release as a digitally restored box set! It all started on location in Sweden and the good doctor Rosling is simply spellbinding in the telling of the tale of the history of statistics. It truly is a fascinating story, and it is interesting, and it is powerful, and most of all it is very important! It was the fastest hour of television that I have enjoyed in a very long while. The show would have been a total winner with this viewer even if it just told that wonderful "boring" story of the history of this very important science. But it was even better than that...

Towards the end of the show the doctor presents statistical data in a way that I have never seen before. As he made his point the data set moved and had upon this viewer a most profound and powerful effect. You have to check it out for your self since my descriptive power would not do it justice. You can check it out at Which is a very slick site full of down loadable goodies, but be very careful, you will learn something!

Why even the thickest Conservative Party of Canada back bencher could understand this...well maybe...

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