Monday, 3 September 2007

Community courses for Salisbury

Today I had a very interesting meeting with the University of Bath's Lifelong learning division. The plan is that I'm going to run two evening courses in Salisbury next Spring, in the venue of Sarum College. The first course, privisonally titled Cognitive psychology: the science of the mind will cover all sorts of interesting things about memory, language, hearing, vision and so on; the second, which will probably be called How to lie with statistics*, will be a largely non-mathematical introduction to how scientific research is carried out and how statistics are generated. The idea is to give people the skills to understand -- and question -- the research and figures they see every day in the media.

I'm particularly excited about the second course. It occurred to me recently that my training and experience with research and statistics allows me to be very critical about what I see in the news, and I can usually tell immediately if a piece of research is worth taking seriously or not; and when I can't, as when the report does not give enough information, I always know what information I need to find to make that decision. It will be wonderful to pass these skills onto a general audience, and they could really help empower people -- especially as I'll cover understanding medical research as a special topic.

Let me know if you want any more details.

* title inspired by this excellent book

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