Saturday, November 13, 2010

Risk as a population concept

An interesting theme that has emerged in the RURS project is the distinction between risk as a population level concept - the probability of an event occurring - and uncertainty as an individual level concept - does the event happen to me, personally. This first arose in the Psychology session, and also in the Political Science session. Andrew Gelman (a statistician) made a similar observation while commenting on an article about medical trials and ethics:
As a doctor, Elliott focuses on individual patients, whereas, as a statistician, I've been trained to focus on the goal of accurately estimate treatment effects.
It would seem that this idea has some legs, if not much in the way of actual work devoted to it.

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