What do you get for someone on World Statistics Day?


by John Bailer,
ISI President

14 October 2020

You know who is being honored on birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Labor Day. But who is being recognized and celebrated on World Statistics Day (WSD)? The simple and easy answer is the profession and practice of statistics. The WSD website,, describes this year’s theme – Connecting the world with data we can trust.

Let me be bold and suggest that the theme could and should be expanded by the simple addition of ‘and analyses’ - Connecting the world with data and analyses we can trust.

Text Box: Photo from Pexels In this WSD year, the appearance of a pandemic has brought a focus on the importance of data to evaluate impact of this disease on human health and to support the function of governments around the world. The importance of demonstrating efficacy and safety of vaccines for prevention and of treatments to mitigate the impact of the disease provides additional confirmation of the importance of data collected in a designed manner with planned inference.

Critical data collection efforts such as the census in the United States must reflect the recommendations of statisticians to yield valid and representative data. Drug and vaccine approval processes include stringent experimental design requirements for evaluating safety and efficacy. Monitoring pandemic progression requires modeling with input data providing insights into transmission, infectivity and recovery. The aspiration to make the world a better place as reflected in UN Sustainable Development Goals requires measuring where each country currently stands on these goals and assessing if we are making progress towards achieving these goals. Let me express my deepest gratitude to all statisticians, analysts and data scientists who contribute to these efforts. What can you get someone for WSD? Send a note of appreciation to colleagues and friends working in the field.

These efforts are not always easy. Recommendations and reports from statisticians and scientists in government may run counter to goals of the government in which they work. The effort to improve the accuracy of reported national statistics in an office led by ISI Council member Andreas Georgiou inflamed government officials and has resulted in 10 years of judicial prosecution in Greece that continues. What can you get someone for WSD? Email a note of support to colleagues working in difficult circumstances or who have experienced negative consequences for doing principled work to provide accurate information. Contact organizations condemning these colleagues and let them know that trust in data and trust in analyses from data are critical for society.

What can you get yourself as a special treat for WSD?

  • Sign up and participate in a WSD event – a Virtual Conversation on the Future of Federal Statistics. ISI and IAOS are co-sponsoring with the ASA and Harvard Data Science Review on the Future of Official Statistics. Former IAOS President Ola Awad will be presenting and current IAOS President John Pullinger and I will be participating as well. Mark your calendars for 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (GMT 3:30-5:00 p.m.) on 20 October 2020. Sign up here.
  • Host your own event – offer to visit local schools (virtually).
  • Attend the World Data Forum - ISI President-Elect Steve Penneck, ISI VP Gabriella Vukovich and John Pullinger will be participating in the World Data Forum.
  • Read the contribution to the Statisticians React to the News blog by Gemma van Halderen. Watch for new blog posts each Tuesday at

What gifts can you get for the profession?

Your leadership and contributions are critical for achieving the goal of connecting the world with data and analyses we can trust. On this World Statistics Day, I look forward to joining you on this important work.

John Bailer (@john_bailer)

ISI President