This may be the stupidest example of risk assessment I’ve ever seen. It’s a video clip from a recent Daily Show, about he dangers of the Large Hadron Collider. The segment starts off slow, but then there’s an exchange with high school science teacher Walter L. Wagner, who insists the device has a 50-50 chance of destroying the world:
“If you have something that can happen, and something that won’t necessarily happen, it’s going to either happen or it’s going to not happen, and so the best guess is 1 in 2.”
“I’m not sure that’s how probability works, Walter.”
This is followed by clips of news shows taking the guy seriously.
In related news, almost four-fifths of Americans don’t know that a trillion is a million million, and most think it’s less than that. Is it any wonder why we’re having so much trouble with national budget debates?