Draft of essay commissioned for a special issue (June 2015) of the Mathematics Enthusiast entitled “Risk: mathematical or otherwise”. Still time to make changes so critical advice welcomed, especially from mathematicians.
What role might mathematicians have to play in the management of risk? The idea of turning a risk, a possibility of loss or injury, into a “calculated” risk, a quantified probability of loss or injury, is one that has obvious appeal not just to statisticians and mathematicians – but to large numbers of others who would like to know the probability of failure before pursuing some intended course of action.
Conclusion: even when risks can be calculated with great precision, they can only be used to inform judgment, but not substitute for it. And it matters who is making the judgment. Read more …