Saturday, September 29, 2007

Risk Characterization Theatre

In my job,I am a business intelligence analyst, the primary problem that I face is how to present numbers to people in a way that makes their meaning as clear as possible. This is a common thing nowadays in the real world as well. We are constantly asked to assess relative levels of risk, for example, and in general we suck at it.

I was very interested to see this article by Stephen Strauss at the CBC about a technique of describing risk in a way that is clear and concise and that is accessible to anyone, even those with no statistical training whatsoever. I am not going to go into the details here because Strauss is a much better write than I am but ... I think I might have found a use for one of my domains

And all this leads into another of my modest proposals. I don't see why, in an Internet Age, all statistics, as they relate to human health, can't be illustrated in a Risk Characterization Theater.

In the past, physical space limited what you could show, with only so much available on the printed page. Today, the internet laughs at suggestions of a space shortage.

Scientific papers can still put findings in whatever format they want for other scientists, but there should also be a place on the web where ordinary people can view the numbers in a way they can emotionally relate to.

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