To eat bacon sandwiches? Or not to eat bacon sandwiches? That’s a question tackled by David Spiegelhalter, who holds the title, “Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk” at Cambridge University. Sometimes they just call him “Professor Risk” for short.
In his academic work, Spiegelhalter looks at risk and uncertainty every day, seeing how they affect the lives of individuals and society. You’d figure that this might make him more cautious than the rest of us. But that’s not how it turns out. After analyzing all of the data, Spiegelhalter comes to this conclusion: some calculated risks are worth it. They have minimal downside and make life worth living. Or, looked at a little differently, sometimes “one of the biggest risks [in life] is being too cautious.”
You can stay current on Spiegelhalter’s thinking by following his blog Understanding Uncertainty.
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Perhaps the professor could explain to his students that risk taking should not extend to riding a bicycle at night with no lights, while dressed in black. There are more Darwin awards for Cambridge students than PhDs and unfortunate motorists are caught in their recklessness.