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Beware Nerds Crossing Streets In Dc

Okay, given the local industry and the interests of the city's educated work force, I guess you should pretty much always heed that warning in Washington. (And I don't exempt myself from the classification.) Still, there's nothing to spice up your local bar scene like an overbooked statistics convention. From the Times front-pager about the rising status of statisticans:

In another sign of the growing interest in the field, an estimated 6,400 people are attending the statistics profession’s annual conference in Washington this week, up from around 5,400 in recent years, according to the American Statistical Association. The attendees, men and women, young and graying, looked much like any other crowd of tourists in the nation’s capital. But their rapt exchanges were filled with talk of randomization, parameters, regressions and data clusters. The data surge is elevating a profession that traditionally tackled less visible and less lucrative work, like figuring out life expectancy rates for insurance companies.

If I were a statistician, I'd want attendance figures from at least the last 20 or 30 years--to see if this is a bona fide trend or just statistical noise. Something tells me the Times is going to hear from a few readers on this one. Which, I guess, is the danger of writing a piece about statisticians that includes a lot of numbers in it.

--Noam Scheiber