Poor forecasting: one approach to doing something about it

Philip Tetlock, an academic psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is famous in forecasting circles for his 2005 book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? He reported on a 20-year research project on expert forecasts in many different fields, and, to summarize crudely, found that most of the experts were pretty hopeless at forecasting. Now he's involved in another project to try to do something about this.

"Official": it does matter how risk statistics are presented

The respected and influential Cochrane Collaboration has just published a systematic review of research on different ways of presenting risks and reductions in risk in a health context. It won't come as a surprise to regular readers of this website that they concluded that some aspects of the presentation really do make a difference. But maybe there are a few surprises in their detailed findings.

We're all going to die (sometime)

lecturePast experience and probability theory can be used to check the odds of your football team winning or judge the risks of activities such as riding motorcycles, taking illegal drugs, going into hospital or just living. Things get more difficult when we don't fully understand what is going on, like early on in the swine flu epidemic, or when we are dealing with huge complexity, as in climate change. Then it can be helpful to admit what we don't know.

Car insurance? How big are your feet?

Did an article in the Times [paywall] today on the forthcoming EU Court of Justice ruling on whether gender can be taken into account when setting insurance premiums. I think this is an important and interesting topic, but articles in the financial pages have been very dull and so tried to make this a bit lighter in tone. Text of article is here.

If you can calculate risk you can make better judgments

iconDavid giving a 'Do Lecture'. As the Do Lectures site explains, "The idea is a simple one. That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too. So each year, a set of people are invited to come and tell us what they Do."

Odd odds

Ben McGarry pointed out this blog entry about an article published in Sexually Transmitted Infections Online that says some rather odd things.

Data: can we cope?

Are we all drowning in a deluge of data? Are our data tools and systems managing to keep up with all the numbers we're collecting all the time? A series of articles in the journal Science doesn't give an entirely positive view, at least in terms of what's going on in the scientific research community. But what does that have to do with uncertainty?

Daily Mail gets odds right shock

The Daily Mail and other papers carried the story about the Banwell family whose third child shares a birthday, February 5th, with two older siblings, and this time they got the odds right at 133,000 to 1!

Crime maps: how useful?

New online crime maps for England and Wales have just been published. They seem to show numbers of crimes for single streets. If you're in England or Wales, you'll probably have seen all the fuss about them in the media. But what do they actually tell us about the risks of crime?

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