A popular view of scientists is that they deal with certainties, but they are (or should be) the first to admit the limitations in what they know. Yet can scientists admit uncertainty and still be trusted by politicians and the public? Or would the language of possibilities and probabilities merely shift attention to those with more strident, confident arguments?
Nobody is expected to predict the future exactly. So there is generally no problem in acknowledging the risk of everyday activities, and it is natural to use past experience to be open and precise about the uncertainties. Patients may, for example, be told that for every one million operations there are expected to be five deaths related to the anaesthetic — that’s an anaesthetic risk of five micromorts (a one-in-a-million chance of dying) per operation.… Seguir leyendo »