Risk Savvy

Risk Savvy (2014) by Gerd Gigerenzer is an excellent book on risk and how it is presented to us all. Gigerenzer is the director of the Center for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and director of the harding Center for Risk Literacy.

Risk Savvy first describes how people don’t understand probabilities in information that is commonly given to them, a surprising number of people don’t understand what a 30% chance of rain means.

Much of the book is on how in medicine people do not have a good understanding of risk. The book describes how medical professionals don’t understand risk and how they communicate it even more poorly. False positives and the likelihood that a positive test is a false or true positive confuse most health professionals. Absolute risk numbers are often not given by interested parties who want to dramatise a result for various reasons.

Gigerenzer has some simple suggestions for improving how people asses risk. They include fact boxes that show in a clear way how beneficial screening for breast cancer, prostate cancer and other diseases are. The Harding Center for Risk Literacy has some that can be examined. It seems like a great idea.

Risk Savvy is a really interesting book that’s easy to read on a topic of considerable importance.


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