Data Data Everywhere

We live in a world where business, Government and media extol the virtues of being data led, of using and exploiting data, of regarding data, in a slightly imperfect analogy, as the new oil. Ed Humpherson, head of the UK’s Office for Statistics Regulation, is in the front line of these debates. He focuses on how the UK Government collects and presents statistics to serve the public good. He will argue that there are different motivations that lead people to place data at the heart of discourse. They include the weaponisation of data, in which data are used as a resource in debate, isolated factoids dropped in as a rhetorical device; data as a programmatic comfort blanket – data which confer an illusion of control and delivery mastery; and data as knowledge and learning, where data are used to find out about the world, in all its messiness, and appreciate the limitations and caveats. His talk will bring out how to thrive in a world of data everywhere.


Ed Humpherson is Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, and head of its Office for Statistics Regulation. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the UK’s Code of Practice for Statistics; for assessing compliance with this Code by Government departments and the Office for National Statistics; and highlighting concerns about the misuse of statistics in public debate.

Between July 2009 and December 2014, Ed was a Board Member and Executive Leader for Economic Affairs at the National Audit Office. This role included responsibility for the overall strategic direction of NAO’s work on economic affairs. Amongst other previous responsibilities, Ed oversaw the NAO’s response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Ed is also Vice Chair of the charity Motability; a trustee of Pro Bono Economics; a trustee of the Regulatory Policy Institute; and co-chair of the Royal Society’s data community of practice.

Ed is a chartered accountant and was educated at the University of Edinburgh where he obtained a first-class MA honours degree in Politics and Economic History.

Monday, 12 December 2022

16:00 - 16:45 GMT


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  • Ed Humpherson
    Ed Humpherson
    Director General for Regulation
    UK Statistics Authority
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    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Z/Yen Group