So you want to go out on a date with someone from the Statistical Commission meeting what should you say to make them think you are clever?

So i am sitting in the Vienna Cafe in the United Nations basement and there are over 700 people attending the Statistical Commission from governments, intergovernmental organizations and stakeholders.

It was at the 2015 Commission meeting when the numbers attending had started to increase the then chair of session called themselves the 'new rock stars'. At the time i think it was the first time most stakeholders had attended a Statistical Commission meeting - infact before 2015 most of us did not know that it even existed.

In January this year the South African government with the UN Statistical Division organized the first World Data Forum. It has been reported that over 2000 people attended. Stats are becoming sexy. That is of course because everyone knows that they are playing a very significant role in the monitoring of the SDGs.

Sitting here in the Vienna Cafe surrounded by people attending the Commission meeting it dawned on me what do they talk about when they go out to dinner. I thought perhaps this blog might give someone who isnt interested in statistics some pointers in case you find your on a date with one of them.  We hope these five questions will keep the statistician talking for the first date - after that you are on your own.

  1. I would really be interested in knowing if you have enough capacity in your organization/government to measure the 230 indicators?
  2. How are you coping with creating your SDG indicator platform? ((It might be a good idea at this point to either order a coffee or another bottle of wine))
  3. How big is your big data? wink wink
  4. What about open data how important is that?
  5. Encyclical data is I understand is the new 'enormous' wave for data - what do you think of it?
  6. If the date is going badly then this is your escape question. I am a great supporter of citizen data and citizen news what do you think of it? And if you really want a quick exit add this. And it paved the way for the recent election of 'one of my heroes' President Trump
I hope this will help any you out there engaging in romantic activities with someone from the statistical world. If things are going well maybe you could even have the honeymoon in UAE at the next World Data Forum in late 2019.


  1. And let us not forget what the British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, famously said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics!"

    Another question I might ask on a date with a statistician: And, what are the most effective ways to manipulate data?

    Perhaps another: how do you get national statistical offices to pay attention to citizen-generated data?

    Frances, Stakeholder Group on Ageing

  2. This was really funny, thank you!:)

  3. Or the most famous of all The Onion headlines " Standard Deviation Not Enough For Perverted Statistician "

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this post.


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