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27 September 2012

Understanding and communicating risk and uncertainty

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 2:15pm - 3:45pm

Risk is endemic in our society. Actually there is nothing new about that, but in recent decades, the way we talk about risk has developed in new directions. Our understanding of how people should cope with uncertainty, and how people do in fact cope with uncertainty, has developed too, but not in a way in which there is a clear consensus. In normative terms, the dominance of the model of maximising subjective expected utility is arguably decreasing. In descriptive terms, some still work on the basis that, with exceptions, people are ‘natural Bayesians’, others give much more prominence to heuristics and rule of thumb, though even amongst them there is major disagreement between the ‘heuristics and biases’ school (Kahneman and colleagues) and the ‘adaptive toolbox’ school (Gigerenzer and colleagues). I shall attempt to throw light on some of the constructs and controversies.   Bio Kevin McConway is Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University, where he has worked for 32 years. He studied mathematics at Cambridge, statistics at UCL, and psychology, business and German at the OU. His main current research interests are in aspects of risk and decision making, and in statistical application in ecology, evolution and health care.

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk