Mobilized by distressingly low levels of public trust in official statistics, the U.K. government is embarking on a daring, and possibly unique, experiment. With broad support, Parliament in 2007 approved the formation of the U.K. Statistics Authority, a group with the budget, authority and independence to question other government agencies on the numbers they release to the public.
After its formation last year, the authority got off to a slow start, but it has already taken to task other government agencies for presenting data in a misleading way. Now, it is gearing up for audits on hot-button topics, such as crime statistics and education test scores, whose reliability has come into question.
Or...er...global warming maybe?