Professor Spiegelhalter, the Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge, discusses the two sides of risk with swine flu, as perceived by The Government and the Individual

by David Spiegelhalter

David Spiegelhalter

Professor Spiegelhalter is Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. His background is in medical statistics, particularly the use of Baysian methods in clinical trials, health technology assessment and drug safety. He led the statistical team in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and also gave evidence to the Shipman Inquiry. In his new post he leads a small team which is attempting to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are discussed in society. He was elected FRS in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 to services to medical statistics.
There are two sources of uncertainty; the unpredictability of life ÔchanceÕ and our lack of knowledge. Understanding risks is a complex and emotional issue which is interpreted quite differently depending whether looking it from a wider organizational or individual perspective. The risks also differ depending on severity and experience.