As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates. was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

Making money from the rain

I have just won £10 in the Walker's Crisps Rainy Day promotion. Each packet of crisps has a code that allows you to choose a 2km x 2km square in the UK or Republic of Ireland in which you think it will rain in a couple of days time. I won after only three entries at a crisp cost of £1.20, which seems quite a good deal.

Hang out the flags!

The great day has arrived. The first UN World Statistics Day, that is, which naturally falls on 20.10.2010. The bunting is out, and statisticians everywhere will emerge from their data-mines, blinking through their pebble spectacles. They will throw off their drab grey suits and dance in the street, discard the row of pens in their top pocket and trim their unruly hair, their dull monotone will turn to song and they will stop staring at their shoes.

Not sure about the weather? Now's your chance to show it.

We are working with the Met Office on a project comparing alternative ways of presenting uncertainty about short-term weather forecasts, and have a 6-month internship available for a PhD student. See this link for details.

Strange how these "1 in 48,000,000" events keep on happening!

The Daily Mail has a story today about the Allali family whose third child was born on the same date as his two older siblings, claiming that "mathematical experts have revealed that the three siblings have beaten odds of 48 million to one". If these are the real odds, isn't a bit strange how often this story appears in the papers?

Alcohol, pregnancy and the precautionary principle

A recent study showed no evidence of an adverse effect of moderate consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and subsequent child development. But the Department of Health has commented "After assessing the available evidence, we cannot say with confidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe and will not harm your baby. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol."
Is this still a tenable position?

Handling uncertainty about climate change

The Inter-Academy Council (IAC) recently produced a report on the workings of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) which got a lot of publicity, but almost no coverage was given to what the IAC said about the IPCC's way of handling uncertainty. It makes interesting reading.

Paul - the soothsaying cephalopod

Article in today's Times included below. I should have included the important observation that even if Paul's final two predictions are correct, it does not change my total belief that he is not psychic and the results are just chance. Essentially when a hypothesis has zero initial probability, no amount of surprising evidence will shift that belief. Oh dear, what a closed-minded person I am.

Risk-intelligence about children

This is an article that appeared in the Times on Friday July 2nd - sadly everyone now has to pay to access Times articles online.

Small but lethal risks - how dangerous is it to go into hospital?

We have an article on micromorts in Plus this month, featuring a simple but effective animation for comparing risks of different activities.


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