Distinguished Statistician Howard Wainer to Discuss the ‘Magic’ of Data Visualization March 25

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Statistician Howard Wainer will present the seminar “Graphs as Poetry” in W201 Furcolo Hall at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 25. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Stetz Memorial Lecture Series for the research, educational measurement and psychometrics concentration in the College of Education.

Wainer says that visual displays of empirical information are too often thought to be just compact summaries that, at their best, can clarify a muddled situation. Data visualization can communicate emotions and feelings in addition to cold, hard facts and, when done well, can make good scientists great and transform great scientists into giants of their field. This talk will explore how the combination of critical questions addressed by important data and illuminated by evocative displays can achieve a transcendent, and often wholly unexpected, result.

Wainer received his Ph. D. from Princeton University in 1968. His work experience includes serving on the faculty of the University of Chicago, working at the Bureau of Social Science Research during the Carter Administration, 21 years as principal research scientist in the Research Statistics Group at Educational Testing Service and 15 years as the distinguished research scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners. He has a long-standing interest in the use of graphical methods for data analysis and communication, robust statistical methodology and the development and application of generalizations of item response theory. His work on testlet response theory has combined all three. His latest book is “Truth or Truthiness: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction by Learning to Think like a Data Scientist,” which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016 and was named one of the top six books of 2016 by the Financial Times. He is currently writing a history of statistical graphics in collaboration with Michael Friendly, tentatively entitled “A Gleam in the Mind’s Eye: Visual Discovery and the Rise of Data Visualization” and is scheduled to be published by Harvard University Press in April of 2020.

Wainer was elected a Fellow in the American Statistical Association in 1985 and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association in 2009. He was awarded the Educational Testing Service’s Senior Scientist Award in 1990 and selected for the Lady Davis Prize and was named the Schonbrun Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University in 1992. He received the 2006 National Council on Measurement in Education Award for Scientific Contribution to a Field of Educational Measurement for his development of testlet response theory and given NCME’s career achievement award in 2007, and he received the Samuel J. Messick Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from Division 5 of the American Psychological Association in 2009, the Career Achievement Award from the Psychometric Society in 2013 and the 2015 ACT/AERA E. F. Lindquist Award for Outstanding Research in Testing & Measurement. Since 1990 he has written a popular column on data visualization in the statistics magazine Chance.