Spinning the Risk

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

understandinguncertainty.org 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.

Link to Spinning the Risk AnimationThis animation is designed to alert you to the huge number of sometimes misleading ways that the same risks can be presented - relative or absolute, positive or negative framing, percentage chance or natural frequency, both graphically and in text.

See 2845 ways to spin the risk.

Some help on how to customise this animation appears below the animation itself.

You need Flash Player 9 or above to view this page.

For site editors, a protected standalone version is available at RiskDisplay page and at RiskDisplay Download. Right click on the download link to save.

Personalising the Animation

This animation can be applied to any trial where there is a comparison between the risk without treatment and the risk with treatment.

Changing the Trials

Clicking on the personalise tab and then on the big 'Change the Trials' button gets you into the Trials Editor screen. This screen has two columns. In the left hand column you can edit the set of trials that will appear in the drop down menu when the animation runs. Trials can be removed or inserted into this list. Let's assume you want to add your own trial...

Click on Insert New Trial

A new trial will be created and the editor will now show some default settings. You'll need to edit these as follows:

Trial Label
A short name of for this trial to appear in the dropdown menu.
A longer name for the trial that will appear at top of screen when this trial is selected.
Trialling harms or benefits
If the 'treatment' is harmful e.g. start smoking, select Harms. If beneficial e.g.'5 a day fruit and veg', select Benefits. This choice affects the texts displayed in the animation.
Box A: Enter Name of Treatment
Enter something that identifies the treatment or intervention. This is inserted in the animation sentences as a noun or noun phrase.
Box B: Enter Name of Adverse Condition
A noun or noun phrase describing the condition one hopes to avoid (e.g. death)
Chance of B without A
The percentage chance of getting condition B given treatment A
Chance of B with A
The percentage chance of getting condition B without treatment A
to this many significant fiugures
Choose the smallest number of significant figures needed to represent your data. 2 or 3 usually suffice.

Finally, you can change the colour coding for the displays e.g. if you need a colour coding for black and white print or photocopy.

Saving your edits

Leave the trial editor by pressing OK. Then click on 'Save Current Settings'. This will allow you to save the animation state in a local file on your machine. When you return to the animation at a later date, you can reload this state by pressing 'Use previously saved settings'.

Changing the Faces

If you click on the big Change the Faces button, you can edit the icons used in the smiley displays. If your computer has a webcam, clicking on the button underneath each option will allow you to capture a new image for that icon. Clicking the folder icon allows you to select a 60px square image file for the icon.

If you change the faces, remember to save your settings, so you can reuse them later.

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