Whether we like it or not, statistics are a rhetorical device. Any number that's reported in a scientific study has a great deal of context, whether it's stated explicitly or kept hidden, and like any argument, the numbers reported are intended to make a point. When reading, writing, or simply understanding the results of an experiment, you have to grasp the whole context of the numbers - including errors and uncertainties. As with our session at ScienceOnline 2012, we'll use some case studies drawn from recent scientific stories - both good examples and bad - where the numbers are a major part of the story.
Questions: 1) Numbers in a scientific study are reported to make a point. Understanding what they mean is essential for getting the story. 2) Any reported number without a context is meaningless. The full story is needed to know what a scientific result means.