Communicating Risk and Uncertainty
DavidĀ Spiegelhalter
Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

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. I will look at examples of communication of both mundane and sensitive topics, including genetic risks, tomorrow's weather, next weekend's football, and radiation exposure.

Keywords: Risk; Communication; Visualisation

Biography: David Spiegelhalter's background is in medical statistics, particularly the use of Bayesian methods in clinical trials, health technology assessment and drug safety. He leads a small team ( which attempts to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are discussed in society. He gives many presentations to schools and others, advises organisations on risk communication, and is a regular newspaper columnist on current risk issues. He was elected FRS in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics.