Show and tell: Distilling statistics for the public on Twitter

Close up headshot of Kareem Carr

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Who I am: Kareem Carr, a PhD student in Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

What I created:  I have a Twitter account with 160,000 followers that I use to educate people about statistics. I qualitatively interpret data to influence public conversations on important topics. This has led to mentions in the New York Times and the Washington Post. I was also a featured guest on an episode of MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ podcast and profiled by Popular Mechanics.

Why it matters: In one of my classes at Harvard Chan, I learned from Professor Lee-Jen Wei that statisticians are often excluded from the main conversations in the public discourse. I want to use my account to show that we can weigh in on more than specific technical details. Our expertise is valuable in connecting abstract numbers to reality.

What I learned: Writing for the general public differs from academic writing. To do it successfully, you must focus on communicating useful ideas in the simplest form while maintaining their truthfulness.