Saturday, May 07, 2011
Following recent interviews to do with the crisis at Fukushima, here's another take on the sort of problem we face. Lee Clarke, a Professor of Sociology at Rutgers, points out that what he calls "possibilistic" thinking is an important and necessary supplement to standard probabilistic risk analysis. When, for example, the operators of nuclear power plants tell the public that the risk of a nuclear melt-down is negligible they're basically just making stuff up, so, instead of acting on the basis of such flawed judgments we should think about what a nuclear melt-down might mean in reality and plan accordingly for the worst case, within reason. In fact, we make that sort of calculation all the time. When middle aged people, for example, buy life insurance, they're not insuring against the specific risk they have of premature death but for the awful consequences of a very unlikely event.
This one is low key but I think Lee has got some important things to say.
As always, if you like the podcast please don't hesitate to forward the link.