In David Spiegelhalter’s excellent programme on risk, Tails You Win: The Science of Chance, we heard about the classic case of Michael Fish failing to predict the 1987 hurricane, and about the difficulty of predicting such events. Another area where precise prediction is extremely difficult is earthquakes.
Today the BBC are reporting that “six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison” in L’Aquila, Italy, having been found “guilty of multiple manslaughter” because of a “falsely reassuring statement” they gave before a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city in 2009 and killed 309 people.
Last summer the Met Office launched an online game to understand how best to present probabilities in weather forecasts. This game was collecting data for a project on perception of probabilities.
The Met Office reports game was played more than 11,000 times. A blog post presents some initial findings:
When faced with straightforward decisions, providing probabilities doesn’t confuse people.
For more complex situations, on average people are able to make better decisions using probabilities.
People make the best decisions when more detailed information on forecast uncertainty is provided.
Data analysis continues.
Met Office: Early results from our record-breaking weather game.