Real-World Probability Books: Risks (Individuals)

Blastland, Michael and Spiegelhalter, David. The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger. Basic Books, 2014.

See my review.

Gigerenzer, Gerd. Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions. Viking Penguin, 2014.

See my review.

Ropeik, David and Gray, George. Risk. A practical guide for deciding what's really safe and what's really dangerous in the world around you. Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

A wonderful reference work, and an antidote to the "scare of the week" that the media continually inflict upon us. Has short sections on each of 48 risks (e.g. indoor air pollution; pesticides; firearms; X-rays; caffeine; breast implants) containing data and the relevant scientific knowledge, summarized by two scales of "likelihood of being affected" and "seriousness of being affected".

Ropeik, David. How Risky Is It, Really?. Why our fears don't always match the facts. McGraw-Hill, 2010.

See my review.

Walsh, James. True Odds. How risk affects your everyday life. Silver Lake, 1998.

Structured around 16 particular topics, from concrete concerns of individuals (violent crime; cell phones and brain cancer; secondhand smoke) to more general topics (moral hazard of insurance; lotteries are a tax on the stupid). A main focus is on the interaction between scientific data, media reporting, legislation promoted by interest groups, and regulation by government agencies. By presenting these case studies from recent history (1975-1995), the author provides an insightful overview of the real-world interplay of the scientific, psychological and political aspects of dealing with risk. This book is implicitly a well-justified polemic in favor of rational quantatitive risk assessment and against media scares, environmental extremist lawyers and inflexible "command and control" bureaucracy.

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