risk

10 posts
Communicating risk in the context of daily living

Wayne Oldford, a statistics professor at the University of Waterloo, explains risk in the context of daily life at the individual level, because “one in a million” is not especially intuitive: A few years ago, I was the “go to guy” at the University of Waterloo, asked to speak to local media, whenever a lottery jackpot got stupendously large (and the news cycle got exceedingly slow). My purpose was to...

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Cancer and statistics

Hannah Fry works with statistics and risk, but her perspective changed when she was diagnosed with cancer. Fry documented the experience and it’s available on BBC: Hannah Fry, a professor of maths, is used to investigating the world around her through numbers. When she’s diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 36, she starts to interrogate the way we diagnose and treat cancer by digging into the statistics to...

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Reducing the risk of nuclear war

For Our World in Data, Max Roser discusses the risk and possible destruction of nuclear war, along with suggestions on how to reduce that risk: An escalating conflict between nuclear powers – but also an accident, a hacker, a terrorist, or an irresponsible leader – could lead to the detonation of nuclear weapons. Those risks only go to zero if all nuclear weapons are removed from the world. I believe...

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Communicating effectiveness of boosters

Statisticians David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters for The Guardian on reframing risk estimates: An earlier UKHSA study estimated two Pfizer/BioNTech doses gave around 99.7% (97.6% to near-100%) protection against Delta-infected hospitalisation, but after 20 weeks that effectiveness waned to 92.7% (90.3% to 94.6%). This estimated decline for people over 16 may not sound much, but if we look at it in terms of “lack of protection”, their estimated vulnerability relative...

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Visualizing risk of Johnson & Johnson vaccine side effect

As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pauses in the United States, Philip Bump for The Washington Post offers a quick visualization that shows 100 vaccinations per second. A red one appears if there’s a side effect. But because the side effect is rare, currently at 1 in 1.1 million, the red dot on the visualization likely never appears as you watch. The blue dots are potential lives saved if the...

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Small gatherings can be dangerous too

A small gathering of 10 people or fewer can seem like a low-risk activity, and at the individual level, it’s lower risk than going to a big birthday party. But when a lot of people everywhere are gathering, small or large, the collective risk goes up. For FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth and Elena Mejía illustrate the reasoning. The collective part is where many seem to get tripped up. “Flattening the curve”...

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Estimate your Covid-19 risk, given location and activities

The microCOVID Project provides a calculator that lets you put in where you are and various activities to estimate your risk: This is a project to quantitatively estimate the COVID risk to you from your ordinary daily activities. We trawled the scientific literature for data about the likelihood of getting COVID from different situations, and combined the data into a model that people can use. We estimate COVID risk in...

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Illustrations show how to reduce risk at small gatherings

Risk of coronavirus infection changes depending on the amount of contagious particles you breathe in. El Pais illustrated the differences when you take certain measures, namely wearing masks, ventilation, and decreased exposure time. The suggestions are based on statistical models, so there is more uncertainty than I think the explanations provide, but the sequence of illustrations provides a clear picture of what we can do — if you must do...

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✚ The Process 108 – Expected Value

Look only at uncertainty and it can feel overwhelming. Look at just averages and it's not enough information. So, smoosh them together. Read More

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Minimizing risk

For NYT Opinion, Aaron E. Carroll on doing small things that sum to something bigger: Too many view protective measures as all or nothing: Either we do everything, or we might as well do none. That’s wrong. Instead, we need to see that all our behavior adds up. Each decision we make to reduce risk helps. Each time we wear a mask, we’re throwing some safety on the pile. Each...

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