Who is Penumbra?
That makes nearly ten years now, that we have been gradually building this non-institutional space with a multifaceted name, Penumbra, which now counts some 500 members. It is a collective and perfectly empirical attempt to shed some light on the social life of numbers in public debate, with the deliberate intention of not being simple observers, but rather to influence the quality of democratic exchanges in our country. We do this through journals (a White Letter and a Gray Letter), a book (Chiffres en folie), whose title may be translated as Number follies, an Internet homepage (run out of Lausanne), participation in television and radio programs, ad hoc study groups and public forums (Penumbras late-night meetings).
Our motto, adopted from the first, is Ones own turpitude is never something to boast of. Specialists are encouraged not to hide in the shadowy area of the constraints attached to their discipline, their job or their position in the hierarchy. They are invited to leave their natural environment, and to put their professions customs aside, at least temporarily. Our equation is: support differences, multiply viewpoints and eliminate sterile divisions. The associations activities, including writing, discussions in groups, large or small, reacting publicly to current social-political and/or media-created issues as well as pro-active initiatives, are intense, playful and increasingly visible. Whenever possible, Penumbra attempts to steer wide of the austerity that usually characterizes scientific work and quantitative approaches in particular. Seducing people who dont like figures as well as those who do sometimes requires humor, a touch of the literary, and sometimes even recourse to fiction.
The chances are that the problems encountered by the twosome formed by producers and consumers of statistics in other countries with different social, political and/or geographic contexts probably have much in common. Initiatives similar to Penumbra probably exist in other parts of the world. It is our hope, then, that this Seoul conference of the International Statistical Institute will provide us with an opportunity to learn about them, and perhaps to develop others.
Pierre V. Tournier
Seoul, ISI 53rd session
Who is Penumbra ?, by P.-V. Tournier
Gay Pride: a divise subject, by C. Halbschatten
Aging, by M. Leclair
Measuring violence: what goes on back stage, by B. Aubusson de Cavarlay
No opinion, but some effect, by J.-M. Lévy-Leblond
Right figure, wrong word, by R. Padieu
We madly hope they are right, by V. Descombres
Is there such a thing as immunization against a risk ?, by J.-R. Brunetière
Births: Russia is in the red, by V. Descombres
The big fish and the small fry, by P.-V. Tournier
Seven golden men, by R. Padieu
On the use of percentages by the hundred, by A. Dittgen
Cocaine and sangria, by F. Beck and C. Diaz-Gomez
The terminal spectator, by P.-V. Tournier
In search of the lost gene, by J.-P. Jean
Livingstone is back, by A. Labey
Mumble-jumble statistics, by A. Dittgen
A story of ninety year-old nuns, by M. Leclair
Letter to the editor, by F. Vansteenkiste