Editor’s Letter—Vol. 34, No. 4

Dear CHANCE Colleagues,

Football season is in full swing. For some, that goes hand-in-hand with drafting a fantasy football team. Fantasy sports wagering is legal in most states in the U.S., but not all. In the article “Games of Chance and Games of Skill,” Michael Orkin shares his application of statistical hypothesis testing to analyzing fantasy-like sports wagering data. Do these games involve skill or simply luck? Orkin explains how the answer to that question affects the application of gambling laws.

Speaking of hypothesis testing, there has been some debate in recent years about the use (or rather mis-use) of p-values. The 2019 article “Moving to a World Beyond p < 0.05,” published in The American Statistician, may have been mistaken by some as official American Statistical Association (ASA) policy. To address the confusion, the ASA president convened a task force to clarify their position. With permission, we are reprinting the “ASA President’s Task Force Statement on Statistical Significance and Replicability” to further clarify this matter.

Data-driven decisions are ubiquitous in business and industry today, but it has not always been the case. Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), a business owner, philanthropist, and ASA member, used data to outperform his not-so-data-savvy business competitors. Christopher Tong tells the story in “The Statistical Endeavors of Andrew Carnegie.”

After retirement, Ron Weitzman applied his statistical background to water issues in his local area. He recounts his discovery of mis-used statistics on one such water analysis project in the article “From Divining Rods to Statistics: A Forensic Analysis of the Misuse of Statistics in the Estimation of Environmental Impact.”

In the Ethics and Statistics column, Andrew Gelman considers the ethical requirements of a research assistant concerned about a supervisor’s questionable pattern of statistical analysis. In the Odds of Justice column, Mary Gray and Nimai Mehta explore the role statisticians have played as expert witnesses in the Anglo-American system of justice.

Howard Wainer shares his thoughts about a world without standardized tests in the Visual Revelations column. The topic is especially relevant now as bringing examinees together in person for supervised test administration has become impractical during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Teaching Statistics in the Health Sciences column, Carol Bigelow and Amy Nowacki describe the ASA Section on Teaching of Statistics in the Health Sciences resources portal, an online repository containing teaching materials for vetted instructors.

In Book Reviews, Christian Robert critiques Poems that Solve Puzzles by Chris Bleakley, Quick Calculations by Trevor Davis Lipscombe, and The Error of Truth by Steven Osterling; Leland Wilkinson reviews A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication by Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer; and Eric-Jan Wagenmakers reviews Bernoulli’s Fallacy by Aubrey Clayton.

Finally, I would like to introduce a new CHANCE sports column editor. Brian Macdonald, from Yale University, is now editor of the Beyond the Boxscore column. You can read his full bio here.

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Amanda Peterson-Plunkett

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