Median Watch

Eyes on statistics

Success without substance

Reposted with permission from 360info. New Zealander Nigel Richards has won the French Scrabble championship twice. What’s more remarkable than double wins is that Nigel doesn’t speak French. He applied his prodigious brain to the task of memorising words from the French dictionary, bypassing the need for understanding. In 2022, The Lancet medical journal achieved a feat that has parallels with Nigel’s Scrabble win. It achieved the highest ‘impact factor’ of any scientific journal in history.

University league tables cost money and cause harm

Re-posted from Campus Morning Mail with permission. Last week I pledged to work for any Australian university for free if they abandoned league tables. So far no university has been bold enough to take up my offer. I am one of many academics who have criticised league tables using science, demonstrating their many statistical flaws and negative consequences. But all this scientific criticism has had no impact. Instead, the number of league tables is growing and so is their influence.