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Communicating risk and uncertainty

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alexey Morgunov.

Perception of risk can be influenced by the choice of words, numbers and pictures. Preferences and understanding varies among people, which suggests the use of multiple presentations including comparators and interactive animations. Communicating ‘deeper’ uncertainties, in the face of explicit and implicit ignorance, is more tricky, and I will look at examples of communication of sensitive topics, from statins to swine flu, climate change to volcanic ash. We should always remember, however, that people’s reactions to risk narratives are likely to be dominated by their cultural world-view.

Professor David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, and a Senior Scientist at the Medical Research Council’s Biostatistics Unit. He also runs the Understanding Uncertainty website, which aims to help interested members of the public to better understand probability and risk.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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