Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Communicating risk

Catherine Brahic reports what sounds like useful research by David Budescu and colleagues into public understanding, and a recommendation for improvement.

Looking again at the IPCC definition of "exceptionally unlikely" as a less than 5% chance, I wonder if the term is really appropriate.

If I was told on boarding plane that it was "exceptionally unlikely" to crash, I would think not think they meant there was a 1 in 20 chance that it would crash.

How about "very unlikely" for a less than 1% chance?

Still I wouldn't board an aircraft I believed had an up to 1% chance of crashing.

Here's a possible revision:
• "More likely than not" (more than 50%) [same]
• "up to one in three chance" (less than 33%)
• "a one in ten chance" (less than 10%)
• "a one in twenty chance" (less than 5%)

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