UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Panel - The regulation of public numbers

The event is run in association with the annual meeting of the Science and Democracy Network.

June 23, 6:45 to 8:30 pm, Main Quad Pavilion.


Official statistics and indicators are indispensable to present day governance. These public numbers serve as aids to representation of society, government, economy and knowledge. Unions and employers’ associations bargain over price indexes; aid agencies and developing nations argue over rule-of-law indicators; and the United Nations pore over the intricacies of novel statistics and indicators of sustainable development. Along with this proliferation of public numbers comes a deluge of raw digital data within near-universal reach, from which advances in IT promise to deliver untold insights.

Our panel will discuss these developments and aspirations by reflecting on the public numbers most neglected in the contemporary imagination: official state-sanctioned statistics, such as the Gross National Product and the general household survey. Only by looking at the regulation and enactment of official statistics can we hope to understand how numbers have come to play such a crucial role in our polities.

Our panelists – drawn from government, advocacy groups, and academia – will approach these concerns by examining the political, conceptual, legal and administrative challenges facing official statistics today. They are:

  • Mike Hughes

Royal Statistical Society

  • Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority

  • Diane Coyle

University of Manchester, author of GDP: A brief but affectionate history

  • Saamah Abdallah

New Economics Foundation, Programme manager on Wellbeing

  • Mary Morgan

London School of Economics, author of The World in the Model

  • Sheila Jasanoff

Harvard Kennedy School of Government, author (with Sang-Hyun Kim) of Dreamscapes of Modernity

The event is free but ticketed through eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/panel-the-regulation-of-public-numbers-tickets-25792383714