Statistics is a branch of mathematics that deals with the interpretation of data. Statisticians work in a wide variety of fields in both the private and the public sectors and can be found anywhere – Nevada, Washington, New Hampshire, Louisiana. They are teachers, consultants, watchdogs, journalists, designers, programmers, and by in large, ordinary people like you and me. And some of them blog.
In searching for the top statistics blogs on the web we only considered blogs that have been active in 2013. In deciding which ones to include in our (admittedly unscientific) list of the 50 best statistics blogs we considered a range of factors, including visual appeal/aesthetics, frequency of posts, and accessibility to non-specialists. Our goal is to highlight blogs that students and prospective students will find useful and interesting in their exploration of the field.
The blog of Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, president of the online statistics education company The Julia Group, is attractively designed and frequently updated. Interesting, well written, and generally accessible reflections on statistics, mathematics, technology and other related topics are the norm.
Dr. Ben Goldacre, an epidemiologist by day, uses good statistics (among other things) to debunk bad science at night (and probably some during the day as well). The posts at Bad Science, which shares a name with a best-selling book by Dr. Goldacre, are always interesting and usually fun, as is the blog’s design.
Beyond the Box Score
Sabermetrics is the use of statistics and mathematics to analyze the game of baseball. Billing itself as a “saber-slanted” baseball community, this group blog offers crisp writing and informative analysis, but all of the ads can be annoying.
Blog About Stats
A blog where professional statisticians from around the globe gather to share information, discuss new developments, and help each other find better ways to disseminate statistical information to the public. Most of the posts focus on data visualization, which means lots of interesting statistics related graphics.
The co-founder of SAS, a leading business analytics software company, offers lessons in analytics and observations on various statistical and company related items of note. While the analytic lessons will be over the head of the uninitiated, there’s a good mix of more accessible posts to choose from, especially for those interested in the business side of statistics.
By the Numbers
This blog by New York Times visual Op-Ed columnist Charles Blow analyzes and discusses the visual expression of statistical information in the news. High quality, enlightening stuff accessible to the non-specialist.
A very nice group blog on stats, data, visualization and more from a group of academic and private sector dataheads. Generally fun, occasionally irreverent, usually accessible, and always smart.
Text mining, visualization and social media from the technologist Matthew Hurst. Frequently updated with most posts containing some kind of visual for those who get lost in the words and numbers.
Empirical Legal Studies Blog
A collaborative blog by several law and political science professors, brings an empirically and statistically based perspective to legal studies. Posts typically discuss new research in empirical legal scholarship and empirical claims in the news and politics in a broadly accessible way. Especially of interest to those curious aboutthe intersection of stats and the law.
Error Statistics Philosophy
Virginia Tech statistical philosopher Deborah G. Mayo probes the foundations of statistical reasoning from a “frequentist” perspective. Pretty tough going for the non-philosopher, but offers an interesting angle on the discipline for those interested in intellectual deep-sea diving.
Fishing in the Bay
University of Melbourne Professor of Management (Statistics) Chris Lloyd offers “Statistical musings from an Antipodean perspective” that are typically fresh and interesting, even to the non-specialist. Check out “Is statistics science’s dirty little secret?” for an excellent defense of the discipline.
Nate Silver’s NYT blog (named after the number of electors in the U.S. electoral college) uses statistics to analyze everything from politics to science to sports. The blog focuses mainly on stats in politics and Silver is well known for his highly accurate election forecast models.
A super cool site dedicated to exploring how designers, statisticians, and computer scientists use data to understand society. Data visualization is the focus of the majority of posts, which are frequent and very accessible. Check out “5 misconceptions about visualization” for a good introduction to what data visualization is and isn’t.
Unless you know French, you will have to use Google Translate to read Arthur Charpentier’s blog, but it’s well worth the extra effort. Charpentier, a professor of mathematics, offers a nice mix of generally accessible and more challenging posts on statistics related subjects, all with a good sense of humor.
A data scientist and self-described hacker, Mason is also the founder of the Dataist blog (another top 50 selection), chief scientist at bit.ly, and co-founder of the New York hacker federation HackNY. Generally a pretty random mix of instruction, self-promotion and whatever is on the authors mind at the moment, but definitely worth checking out.
Information is Beautiful
Independent data journalist and information designer David McCandless is interested in ways data visualization can help people understand the world and its hidden connections. Posts are always interesting and go a long way towards proving the claim of the blog’s title.
The blog “where form follows data” is authored by a university professor in Belgium. Frequent posts explore the intersection between creative design and statistical information with flair and outstanding visual design.
Lies and Stats
A really excellent, cleanly designed blog devoted to helping unmask the bad and dishonest use of statistics. The site is authored by data analyst Luk Arbuckle, who promises readers he won’t ever bore them with equations. Check out “Misleading Americans about public healthcare” for a representative sample.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
The blog of Dirk Singer, head of a “social media ideas agency” called Rabbit and a self-avowed statistics geek, takes a data-oriented approach to social media, advertising, branding and PR. Singer’s writing is fun and engaging, with most posts revolving around an infographic of some sort.
Log Base 2
Nick Barrowman is a philosophically minded statistical scientist working in medical research. Barrowman provides typically interesting and often profound commentary on a wide variety of philosophical, scientific and cultural topics, with an occasional statistics post thrown in as well.
Mathematics & Statistics at Williams College A group blog by students and faculty at Williams College. Posts are generally thoughtful and well written, with a good mix of math, stats and education focused pieces.
A wide ranging blog on the intersection of statistics and social theory written by one current and one former research scientist at Yahoo!. Posts are always thoughtful and interesting, and frequently include original illustrations.
Numbers Rule Your World
Like his book by the same name, the blog of Sirius XM statistician and NYU professor Kaiser Fung explores the myriad of ways that stats and probability influence the world around us. Fascinating and accessible.
A college professor and a statistical consultant offer their reflections on applied statistics, higher education and epidemiology, among other things. Posts are frequent and generally accessible, but vary widely in quality and depth.
Brings original research and insights from the online dating service OKCupid. Utilizes data derived from the more than 7 million OKCupid members to generate interesting stats and infographics on sex, dating and relationships. Don’t miss “10 Charts About Sex”.
The personal blog of polymath economist and futurist Robin Hanson challenges readers to recognize and overcome their biases. While not strictly about statistics, Hanson frequently utilizes statistical analysis in reflections on honesty, signaling, disagreement, forecasting and the far future.
A group blog devoted to using math and statistics to understand society. This is the official blog of the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Society. Interesting, smart and often fun.
Probability and Statistics Blog
From Matt Asher, statistics grad student at the University of Toronto, comes this opinionated blog on all things statistical. Unfortunately, the blog has not been updated in a while, but there’s some great stuff in the archives. Check out Asher’s Statistics Manifesto.
Radford Neal’s Blog
Neal is a Professors of Statistics and Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Most posts are directly concerned with statistics, with the occasional foray into more general and personal topics. Lots of good stuff for people interested in R programming as well.
A left-leaning UK group blog on the uses of statistics in society. The official blog of the Radical Statistics Group, which is devoted to using statistics to support movements for progressive social change. Includes many interesting critiques of the use and abuse of stats by government and corporate officials.
Realizations in Biostatistics
A professional biostatistician discusses biostatistics, clinical trial design, critical thinking about drugs and healthcare, skepticism, and the scientific process. Posts vary widely in length, complexity and accessibility. Check out this post on the need for statistical leadership for an accessible introduction.
Promising news about R, statistics and open source, this is a group blog from the staff at Revolution Analytics. Most posts are about some aspect of R, but there are also interesting posts on more general topics like “Data Science: a literature review”.
Robin Ryder’s Blog
A professor at Universite Paris Dauphine, Ryder blogs on “statistics and other stuff”, but mainly about statistics. Postings are not very frequent, but usually include interesting questions or insights regarding the statistical world.
Don’t let the title throw you off. There’s a lot more than just baseball stats here. Phil Birnbaum takes on everything (and everyone) from Warren Buffett, to the stock market, to sports predictors and subjects them to a rigorous statistical analysis.
A blog and magazine sponsored by the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society. Updated daily with articles helping people understand the significance of data and statistics for every area of life and society. An excellent resource.
The founder and president of The Analysis Factor, a statistics consulting company, tackles issues in applied statistics and data analysis on her blog. Complex statistical concepts and analysis are explained with clarity, though some background in stats is needed to understand most posts.
A blog by some PhD students at an economics and statistics research center in Paris, France. Stats and math, as well as sports, art and other random subjects are addressed with humor and wit. There’s even a How To on doing a statistics PhD in France. They should know!
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
A group blog with some heavy-hitting sponsors and two Columbia University professors as contributors offers statistically informed opinions on a wide variety of subjects. Posts generally exhibit more humor than the name would suggest. They are also usually more accessible than one might expect.
Statistical Sage Blog
A group blog about the role of statistics in the behavioral sciences. Written by current and retired academics, many of the posts are directed towards explaining difficult statistical concepts to students. An excellent resource for newcomers to the statistical world.
Stats Make Me Cry
Jeremy Taylor is a statistics consultant who wants to make sure you never shed a tear over stats again. Taylor’s series on the Top Ten Confusing Stats Terms Explained in “Plain English” is invaluable for those just learning about statistics or in need of a refresher course.
Stats With Cats
Who can resist statistical analysis mixed with adorable felines? Hasn’t been updated in a while, but some really excellent posts explaining basic statistics in an engaging and understandable way. Consider starting with “Five Things You Should Know Before Taking Statistics 101″.
The blog of Straight Statistics, a UK watchdog organization dedicated to detecting and exposing the public misuse and abuse of stats, and identifying those responsible. Governments, media, advertisement agencies, corporations, science and medicine journals all come under scrutiny. Regularly updated and well worth checking out.
A blog by John. D Cook, statistician, mathematician, consultant, manager and professor. While not all posts are directly concerned with statistics, they are all typically engaging and worthwhile. Warm up with “Wine, Beer and Statistics” before moving on to “Comparing Three Methods of Computing Standard Deviation”.
The LoveStats Blog
A blog at the intersection of market research, data analysis and statistics. Written by a market research methodologist and consultant, posts are generally well written and accessible, dealing with the numbers and surveys side of product marketing. The author claims to keep market research “real, current, and fun”, and for the most part succeeds.
The Numbers Guy
A fun Wall Street Journal blog (now how often do you ever see those five words together in that order?) in which Carl Bialik brings readers the stories behind the stats and examines the way numbers are used and abused in public. Check out “Sorry, Wrong Number” about the consequences of statistical errors and their failure to be eliminated even in the computer age.
The Stats Blog
A fascinating group blog exposing the abuse and misuse of statistical information in the media. Operated by the non-partisan, non-profit Statistical Assessment Service affiliated with George Mason University, most posts dissect the statistical inaccuracy of recent media reports or publications. You will come away much more skeptical of what you see and hear after spending time on this blog.
A blog as strange and intriguing as its namesake. Cosma Shalizi is a statistics professor at Carnegie Mellon who blogs about statistics, books, politics, food and whatever he else he damn well pleases. You can learn a lot from Prof. Shalizi’s regularly posted lecture notes to his Introduction to Statistical Computing class.
A group blog from Cambridge University dedicated to helping “improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining!”. Posts, which usually consist of comments or critiques of recent news events, are usually accessible and fun to read.
A French university professor blogs about statistics (mostly of the computational and Bayesian variety), climbing, travel, running, books, and fatherhood. Occasionally reviews books on statistics as well. Definitely worth checking out.
Zero Intelligence Agents
Drew Conway is a political science PhD student at NYU. His blog revolves around the question “How can the social sciences, mathematics and computer science combine to affect national security?” A fascinating window into yet another world in which statistics plays a vital role.