Covid-19, the Evil Genius, and How to Think about Societal Risks

Interesting article connecting ideas about how we assess risk, the language we use, and how we interpret data depending on how it is presented to us. This connects well to the conflict between emotion and reason in decision making but also our inability to think probabilistically.

If you ask someone if they would be willing to sacrifice 100K people to avoid this intervention, people will be inclined to say no, “I would never put a price tag on human life, much less 100K human lives.” But let’s say you ask the question differently: “Would you be willing to accept a one in three thousand chance of dying this year to avoid this public health intervention?”… Once you ask the question this way then instead of focusing on the raw number of deaths, we can focus on the tradeoffs,

https://reason.com/2020/03/26/covid-19-the-evil-genius-and-how-to-think-about-societal-risks/#comments

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Here are some additional materials related to how we think about numbers and risk, etc. from my Maths page

Here is the article that accompanies the handout above.

Some different questions that get at the same point.


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