March 5, 2013

Statistics used for decoration

The story on Stuff starts

Wellingtonians are an inventive bunch, with many in the capital applying to patent ideas they could create income from.

You might expect this would be backed up by data on high or increasing patent submissions from Wellington, but no:

In the year to July 2012, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand received 6253 patent applications, compared with 6163 a year earlier.

Last year, 124 were filed from the Wellington region and only 27 were accepted.

That is, the number of patent applications is roughly constant, and Wellington is under-represented in terms of population (and I would have though in terms of number of head offices as well).

The numbers don’t actually add anything to the story, they’re like the little paper umbrellas in a cocktail, intended for decoration rather than consumption.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »