Author: David Spiegelhalter

A recent study from Harvard reported that eating red meat is associated with a 13% increased risk of death. But what does this mean? Surely our risk of death is already 100%, and a risk of 113% does not seem very sensible? To really interpret this number we need to use some maths.

Many risks we take don't kill us straight away: think of all the lifestyle frailties we get warned about, such as smoking, drinking, eating badly, not exercising and so on. The microlife aims to make all these chronic risks comparable by showing how much life we lose on average when we're exposed to them.

Do you think bungee jumping is riskier than smoking? Would you take a medicine with a 10% risk of serious side effects? Or board a plane with a 1% chance of crashing? Risk is a very complex topic, studied by researchers all over the world. In the Big Risk Test, which is now live as part of BBC Lab UK, we want to find out how people deal with risk, particularly to try and understand what makes people have such different opinions and feelings about life's chances.

This article is based on a talk I gave at the recent John Cage exhibition in the Kettles Yard gallery in Cambridge. Cage is perhaps best known for his avant-garde music, particularly his silent 1952 composition 4′33″ but also for his use of randomness in aleatory music. But Cage also used randomness in his art.

England's performance in the World Cup last summer was thankfully overshadowed by the attention given to Paul the octopus, who was reported as making an unbroken series of correct predictions of match winners. David Spiegelhalter looks at Paul's performance in an attempt to answer the question that (briefly) gripped the world: was Paul psychic?

One in nine women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and it seems sensible to screen women for breast cancer to treat them as early as possible. But, as David Spiegelhalter explains, screening is a controversial issue.

This may seem like an odd question — after all, he’s won — but it opens up some deep philosophical issues surrounding probability. David Spiegelhalter investigates how probability can be defined.

Well, no-one knows exactly, but using stats you can make a good guess. This article tells you how and has an interactive life expectancy calculator. Do you dare to find out?

You meet an old friend on holiday, you find your colleague shares your birthday, you win the lottery. Exactly how rare are these rare events? David Spiegelhalter investigates in his regular column on uncertainty and risk.