Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of people surveyed felt generally confident when dealing with numbers. This was reflected in their ability to correctly calculate simple percentages (89 per cent) and the average of three numbers (71 per cent). However, in an easy question about understanding chance, where people were asked what is the probability of getting two heads if you spin a coin twice, only thirty per cent got the right answer.
At the time of this survey, the Royal Statistical Society’s then president, Professor David Hand said:
“Statisticians clearly need to do a lot to develop awareness and understanding of statistics and data across society. One challenge is that the great majority (78 per cent) of those surveyed stated they had little or no knowledge of statistical analysis.
“People often have preconceived and downbeat ideas about statistics. This may reflect the fact that the survey showed only about one third (34 per cent) of people responding had a great deal or fair amount of trust in statisticians compared to 44 per cent for accountants.
“The Royal Statistical Society’s getstats campaign is about giving everyone the skills and confidence needed to understand data and statistics.
“Numbers are everywhere in our lives, and statistics is about turning these numbers into useful information on which we can take action. People need to appreciate the power of statistics as it can be the key to the important choices we make in our lives.
RSS-getstats survey 2010 was conducted online by Ipsos MORI between 15-18 October 2010. 1,028 16-64 year old members of the British public were interviewed.