Loose Stones: Statisticians

Hal Varian, Google Chief Economist and Emeritus Professor at the University of California Berkeley, famously said this in an interview with McKinsey. He added:

The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.

I think statisticians are part of it, but it’s just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills – of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis – are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves.

Hal Varian, 2009

Today, 20 years later, Statistician continues to be one of the best jobs in the world by any measures. Just to mention an example: “Data Scientist” and “Statistician” were rated 6th and 8th of the 100 best jobs of 2022 in the USA, respectively.

Moreover, COVID-19 showed the importance of Statistics as a tool to model and understand the evolution of the pandemic. In addition, it showed the dangers of having a general population who does not understand basic Statistics concepts.

So, Hal Varian was right. He just should have said 20 years instead of 10.

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