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.
Probabilities and statistics: they are everywhere, but they are hard to understand and can be counter-intuitive. So what's the best way of communicating them to an audience that doesn't have the time, desire, or background to get stuck into the numbers? This article explores modern visualisation techniques and finds that the right picture really can be worth a thousand words.
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.