Risks Reads

In the “Arts & Society” section of Sunday’s Baltimore Sun (28Sep2003), Larry Williams reviewed the book Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World Around You by David Ropeik and George Gray (ISBN: 0618143726). (For as long as the link is around, check it out here.) It is now on my “must read” list. Sounds facinating and relevant, especially for those of us who deal with assessing risk. (I will review it here when I do read it.)

According to Williams, Robiek “believes we go astray by using common sense to decide what to worry about. The problem is that common sense isn’t based on a rational analysis of the facts but rather subconscious feelings.” Robiek’s suggestion? Statistics.

Some people are still scared to fly, right? But, they drive all over town, or take driving vacations instead of fly somewhere. Everyone reading this knows that you are safer in a plane, than in a car. And the likelihood of death by terrorist attack is … well, I have to read the book. But it’s really small. We talk about these things when we discuss network and computer security and risk.

An interesting-sounding book Williams also reviews is Peter Bernstein’s Against The Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (ISBN: 0471295639). Williams writes, “Bernstein explains how mathematicians transformed probability theory from a gamblers’ toy into a powerful instrument for organizing, interpreting and applying information.” I’ve added that to my “shopping cart” as well.

The problem with doing it at Amazon is… Amazon’s web site keeps suggesting other books. So, I see Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. And that leads me to think of RC Sproul’s The Invisible Hand (ISBN: 0849912075). It’s about Providence. But, now I am getting far afield. Or am I?

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