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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Making sense of uncertainty: Why uncertainty is part of science

Type :
Research reports & papers
Author :
Innocent, T.
Published :
2013
Link :

The guide discusses the way scientists use uncertainty to express how confident they are about results. Also argues that uncertainty can be abused to undermine evidence or to suggest anything could be true: from alternative cancer treatments to anthropogenic CO2 not changing the atmosphere. Looks at why uncertainty is not a barrier to taking action – decision makers usually look for a higher level of certainty for an operational decision (such as introducing body scanners in airports) than for a decision based on broader ideology or politics (such as reducing crime rates).