“The debate about AstraZeneca is just one example of two core problems in the communication of risks in society and the media: the strong need for “absolute certainty” and a widespread lack of thse competencies needed to assess risks correctly. Read more in the interview with Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer.”
“There is nothing that does not involve risk”. According to Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer, the fact that many people do not want to admit this is one of the core problems of our modern society in dealing with risks and uncertainty. Gigerenzer, Director Emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, head of the Harding Centre for Risk Competence and co-founder of the consulting firm Simply Rational, has spent decades researching the perception of risk and decision-making in uncertain circumstances. In his research, he does not conclude that this is due to a fundamental inadequacy of human decision-making skills, as is so readily claimed. Rather, the necessary skills are not being taught. “Many people unfortunately lack risk-taking skills because our education policy does not provide for it.” In school, mainly the mathematics of security, algebra and integral calculus, but not the mathematics of uncertainty, statistics and stochastics, are taught. When one leaves school, however, one finds oneself far more often confronted with percentages and statistics than with algebraic equations. He also takes the media to task. Partly due to their own lack of competence in dealing with risks and probabilities, but also partly for sensationalism, risks are often distorted and exaggerated. “Instead of writing: “Great excitement about AstraZeneca because of new cases of thrombosis”, media should try to classify the risk and contrast it with the risk from Corona,” says Gigerenzer.
The whole interview with Gerd Gigerenzer about the illusion of a safe world, risk competence and AstraZeneca can be found at https://www.zeit.de/wissen/2021-04/nebenwirkungen-astrazeneca-corona-impfung-risiko-gerd-gigerenzer.