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Podcast: Episode 38 – David Spiegelhalter, Public understanding of risk

These are the show notes for episode 38 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 38 is the magic constant in the only possible non-trivial normal magic hexagon. More about 38 from Number Gossip. More about magic hexagons from Wolfram Mathworld.

Before the episode proper, I gave a little ramble on listenership to the podcast and the summer break. I suggested you might like to listen to audio recordings of in depth interviews with esteemed mathematicians used in our members’ publication Mathematics Today. I also asked you to link to from your website or blog and asked you to tell your friends about the podcast and display the poster: poster in A4 format; poster in A5 format.

This week on the podcast we heard from David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk. You can find out more about David’s work from his website. If you’re willing to take the risk that it might be inaccurate, you can read about David on Wikipedia.

The Understanding Uncertainty website by David and his team is well worth a visit. For example, have a look at conditional probability in Screening for disease and dishonesty, different ways of ‘spinning’ the same risk scenario in 2845 ways to spin the Risk and view survival curves and life expectancy in How long are you going to live?

David has written for a column in Plus magazine. See for example articles on the lottery, football premier league, surprises, how long you might live, and the probability that Obama would win the 2008 Presidential election. The concept of a micromort is well worth discovering and David writes about this in the Times.

If you enjoyed this episode the subject of assessing the odds of winning the lottery is covered by Matt Parker in episode 31.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting Join the Facebook page.

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