Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, the current president of the Royal Statistical Society, will be delivering a talk “Communicating uncertainty without losing trust” at the School Of Mathematics, Statistics & Actuarial Science on Thursday 1st of November at 6pm in SIBLT3.
We are faced with claims of both a reproducibility crisis in scientific publication, and of a ‘post-truth’ society in which emotional responses trump balanced consideration of evidence. This presents a strong challenge to those who value quantitative and scientific evidence: how can we communicate risks and unavoidable scientific uncertainty in a transparent and trustworthy way, keeping in mind Onora O’Neill’s requirements that this evidence is accessible, understandable, useable and assessable?
Appropriate communication of established risks has been well-studied, but deeper uncertainty about facts, numbers, or scientific hypotheses needs to be communicated without losing trust and credibility. This is an empirically researchable issue, and we are conducting randomised experiments concerning the impact on audiences of alternative verbal, numerical and graphical means of communicating uncertainty.
Available evidence may often not permit a quantitative assessment of uncertainty, and I will also examine scales being used by ‘What Works’ centres and other agencies to summarise degrees of ‘confidence’ in conclusions, in terms of the quality of the research underlying the whole assessment.
This talk is open to all in the university and we cannot recommend Professor Spiegelhalter enough.