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.

Issues Surrounding Uncertainty

UncertaintyThe fundamental concepts that underlie any discussion of risk and uncertainty are themselves subjects of numerous academic debates and further research. In fact even the activity of communicating risk and uncertainty itself is, as is science communication generally, an active area of research with no clear expert opinion of how it should best be done - or even if it should be done at all.

In this section we aim to provide an overview of some of the underlying issues that we feel are just as important for the public discussion of uncertainty as are the mathematical and statistical concepts themselves.

  • In Probability we introduce some of the fundamental ideas in the history and philosophy of probability. The precise meaning of probability is still very much debated, and whichever interpretation of probability we take colours our attitude to statistics
  • In Risk we introduce some of the different traditions of research that has been done on the concept of risk. On the one hand there is the "risk perception" tradition of psychology, on the other hand there are the sociologial and social psychological approaches to risk (to come). Although both these two approaches have criticised each other for either neglecting or overemphasising the social side of the meaning or risk, they should not be seen as conflicting but complementary.
  • In Public Understanding of Science (to come) we provide an overview of the main concepts and challenges in the field of public understanding of science, as these debates also have a bearing on our project.