Human beings are obliged to take risks in all areas of their lives and their work. Miscalculating or misunderstanding them can be extremely damaging in its consequences. And yet human beings are not intuitively good at understanding them. Probabilities do not come naturally to us as a species.
In this section, statistics and probability are covered from a range of angles. Four researchers at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk choose five books that look at threats that could lead to human extinction or civilizational collapse. Going from the macro to the micro, Jason Zweig, personal finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal discusses personal finance, concentrating on the pitfalls of investing your own money, and the importance of developing some understanding of statistics to guard against being taken for a ride. On a similar, but broader theme, Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, looks at statistics and risk in general, the history of probability and why human psychology often leads to us perceiving risks wrongly.
Meanwhile, Graciela Chichilnisky, Former UNESCO Professor of Maths and Economics at Columbia University, selects her top five books on risk management, covering catastrophic risks, making statistical decisions and reasoned gambling.
In the rapidly-emerging field of existential risks, researchers study the mitigation of threats that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse. We met with four researchers from The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, to discuss their recommendations of the best books to get a grasp of this dense subject.