Risk and uncertainty

Just listening to the Today programme, with one of the shrill Humphreys fangirls interviewing Andy Burnham about advice given to people regarding swine flu. The swaggering media demand that the world be either one thing or the other, true or false, yes or no, fits badly with the nature of probability and risk, forcing the politician to make claims that cannot be true because they deny chance. I was left with the impression that if we all wash our hands no-one will get sick, and that if I do they will drag Mr Burnham back on to demand that he accepts responsibility for the actions of the virus.

This is just a reminder to myself to consider how we deal with probability and risk in a national conversation that refuses to acknowledge chance without responsibility: the things Beck talks about in his risk society work, but also the impossibility of talking about and accepting outcomes in which people are seen to suffer.

She also seemed to think that men tell their womenfolk whether or not they can go to work, but that is probably a separate post.

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