Global heating and the flood disaster

I had a couple of article come out today on the flood disaster. Amazingly, the Courier-Mail ran a piece pointing out the link to global heating and the fact that the costs of climate disasters far outweigh our earnings from coal.

Also, a piece in The Conversation, explaining why terms like “1 in 1000 year flood” need to be retired in favor of probabilities, updating using Bayesian reasoning.

And an interview here with Chinese agency Xinhua on implications of Putin’s war on Ukraince (hopefully this won’t put me on any watch lists)

22 thoughts on “Global heating and the flood disaster

  1. JQ, if you were to be put onto a watchlist because of your interview with the Chinese agency Xinhua, then any very mildly risk averse person would hesitate to say hello to anybody in the presence of a representative of the said agency. I am assuming there is no computer problem in any foreign affairs office, here or there, akin to the robo debt problem.

  2. China’s interests are not aligned with Russia’s. China is all for respecting borders, Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong being inside China’s in Beijing’s view. China imports risky fossil fuels, which it would rather not, and exports much of the kit for the renewables transition (solar panels, batteries, EVs and very soon electrolysers). They will always need wood from Siberia, I’ve seen the huge storage piles on the border. Wood does not make a great power.

  3. Here in Australia, we have to change the way our economy and governance work. The refusal of our Federal Government to be involved in climate change prevention, bush fire prevention, pandemic prevention, flood prevention plus the activities of fighting/mitigating/ameliorating these disasters amounts to a complete abrogation of Federal responsibility. John Quiggin’s essay “Disremembering Government” sums up the problem brilliantly. It is the problem of having a Federal Government that does nothing. It does nothing for the people and nothing for the environment.

    People who are not usually political or analytical of politics and economics are beginning to notice. They are beginning to notice that the Federal Government does nothing. ScottyDoesNothing has become both a meme and a Twitter handle. The phrase “Morrison does nothing” gets a lot of internet hits. His government is called the “Don’t-do-Government”. ScottyFromMarketing, ScottyfromPhotoOps, #ScottyFromCarefullyConstructedPhotoOps, ScottytheFailure and the blunt ScottytheF**wit continue the theme of a government addicted to spin, hypocrisy and idiocy while it delivers nothing substantive.

    Of course, Morrison’s government is just the latest and worst iteration of do-nothing neoliberalism in Australia. This problem has been developing in Australia for a long time, at least since the first John Howard term. Again, read J.Q.’s essay, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    I also recommend “Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-Building State Changes Its Mind” (1991) by Michael Pusey. He lays out in economic and sociological terms (which latter looks at the schooling and training of the economic management elites) the process by which Australia turned its back on nation building, nation maintenance and, in my words, the processes of being a true Commonwealth operating for the “common weal”, the common good.

    The people need to reclaim the state. The state needs to work for the people, not for the rich and the oligarchs. As Canadian social philosopher, John Ralston Saul wrote (going from memory here): “The only real power the ordinary citizen has is that of her democratic government.” Once that government fails to work for ordinary citizens, we are atomized and weak. Only persons of high capital possessions (money and asset capital) have any power in a system when democracy is disabled. What happens to a person without arms? They are (partially) disabled sadly. What happens to government with functional adminstrative, operative and work “arms” (departments that do real stuff). Such a government is disabled, hamstrung or in a straight-jacket. Choose your metaphor. It can do nothing for the people.

    For neoliberalism and its rich, corporate, oligarchic supporters, the fact of the government doing nothing for the people is a feature not a bug. It’s a deliberate design feature. For the people, it’s a bug and not a simple bug. It’s a systemic, system-crashing nest of bugs, white-anting and destroying the connecting infrastructure fabric of our nation. Throw the buggers out. Much more of this white-anting and we will collapse. The collapse process has already begun. We have in quick succession failed to deal with catastrophic bushfires, catastrophic floods and a catastrophic and the ongoing pandemic. Each of these process is actually furthered and worsened by neoliberal do-nothing management. Mitigation, amelioration and recovery do not happen in any significant way. The Feds turn up for a photo-op, promoise s fist-full of dollars, most of which never eventuates, and then they disappear. The disaster suffers recover with community aid only. It stinks. Throw the NLP buggers out.

  4. JQ “And an interview here with Chinese agency Xinhua”. You’re on the soft target list.

    JQ, naive at best. Please read.

    You’ve done a dangerous thing says Alastair MacGibbon Former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre. (See ^fn-danger below)

    china dot org sounds like a nice place. Do NOT go there.

    The editor is Wang Xiaohui, both Goebbels and Riefenstahl rolled in to one “Propaganda Department official Wang Xiaohui laid out further plans for how entertainment should fit into party propaganda efforts this year” Variety reported on  Apr 2, 2021. Link below. 

    I do not need Wikipedia to tell me it is “published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group” 

    ^2. – “Threat Score: 85/100AV”… “Request Report Deletion”

    ^3. And worse,  your article is edited by the Deputy Minister of Propaganda,

    Wang, who has a 36 year Propaganda pedigree … “the new Film Bureau role, Wang is expected to retain his title as deputy minister of the Propaganda Department.”  …”starting a career at the Propaganda Department in 1986. In 2014, he served as deputy director of the Central Policy Research Office.”

    Wikipedia says of “China Internet Information Center … a state-run web portal of the People’s Republic of China and published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group.[1]”

    “Its editor-in-chief is Wang Xiaohui, who also serves as a vice minister of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.[2][3]”

    “Type of site
    Government web portal
    Available in11 languages
    ●! Owner State Council Information Office, China International Publishing Group ●!
    Editor Wang Xiaohui
    URL [I have chosen NOT to publish link]”

    Threat Score: 85/100AV  Link  Twitter  E-Mail 
    “This report is generated from a file or URL submitted to this webservice on September 26th 2017 02:52:00 (UTC) and action script . Falcon Sandbox v6.91 © Hybrid Analysis
    ” Hash Not Seen Before
    Request Report Deletion
    “Incident Response
    Risk Assessment
    > Reads the active computer name 
    > Reads the cryptographic machine GUID
    > Evasive Possibly checks for the presence of an Antivirus engine
    > Network Behavior Contacts 18 domains and 18 hosts.View all details

    “Additional Context
    Related Sandbox Artifacts
    Associated URL [ shxxp:// wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole url @ china org cn/viewthread.php ]
    From – do we trust it?

    BECAUSE – The editor of your “interview here with Chinese agency Xinhua” – the editor is Wang Xiaohui, both Goebbels and Riefenstahl rolled in to one! 

    Variety reported on  Apr 2, 2021;
    “China’s Film Authority Orders All Cinemas to Screen Propaganda Films at Least Twice a Week”

    “Meanwhile, at a press conference last week held for the Party’s Central Committee, a top governing body, National Film Administration director and leading Propaganda Department official Wang Xiaohui laid out further plans for how entertainment should fit into party propaganda efforts this year.. ..

    “Film in particular will play a key role in a broader nationwide campaign to push “mass propaganda and education” on the theme of “following the Party forever,” as well as China’s attempts to build up its military.”

    Riefenstahl & Hitler & Goebbels:
    “The opportunity that was offered was a huge surprise to Riefenstahl. Hitler had ordered Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry to give the film commission to Riefenstahl, but the Ministry had never informed her.[22] Riefenstahl agreed”…

    DON’T – search.china [Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party] cn/hlftiweb/en/index.jsp

    Searched “tianaman”and result?
    “Sorry, Page Not Found”
    Xi – “Sorry, Page Not Found”

    Made sure cookies on, refreshed and used a word on the page as page had Xinjang stories. I searched Xinjang,
    “Sorry, Page Not Found”
    http://search at your own risk ti aupoort propaganda cn/ hlftiweb/ en/index.jsp

    “China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film Bureau Chief
    “A reshuffle had been in the cards for a couple of months since the government announced that the State Administration for Press Publishing Radio Film & Television (SAPPRFT) and the Film Bureau were shifted to be under direct control of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department. That move is seen as part of a growing government crackdown over media, the internet, and social media.

    “In addition to the new Film Bureau role, Wang is expected to retain his title as deputy minister of the Propaganda Department. The Chinese Government Network described Wang as 55 years old, hailing from Jilin Province and, after completing a Masters degree in law, starting a career at the Propaganda Department in 1986. In 2014, he served as deputy director of the Central Policy Research Office.”

    “Are Australian universities putting our national security at risk by working with China?

    “Former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre
    at the Australian Signals Directorate Alastair MacGibbon said universities needed to understand the implications of their international research deals.

    “If it’s a firm that’s backed by a regime … and it’s engaging in what could be developments that help suppress people, then that’s a dangerous thing,” he said.

    “The Chinese Government co-funded at least four University of Queensland courses” [ ! “File not found” at ABC!]
    …”Professor Høj told last night’s Four Corners, “having courses concerning China is totally appropriate”…

    “Drew Pavlou, critic of University of Queensland’s links to Chinese Government bodies, suspended for two years”


    JQ do you use Microsoft Exchange?
    “The FBI Is Now Securing Networks Without Their Owners’ Permission

    “In January, we learned about a Chinese espionage campaign that exploited four zero-days in Microsoft Exchange. One of the characteristics of the campaign, in the later days when the Chinese probably realized that the vulnerabilities would soon be fixed, was to install a web shell in compromised networks that would give them subsequent remote access. Even if the vulnerabilities were patched, the shell would remain until the network operators removed it.”

  5. The important thing is that Slomo turned up for a media grab, surveying the wreckage, and sweeping the mud under the carpet with a very large broom. Now is not the time to be arguing about semantics, or quibbling about what cause(s) are behind such the flood (although we may blame the BoM in an offhanded manner, for not predicting the wildly unpredictable), it is what steps we now take, that matter most to the people (etc, etc, etc).

    There, that crisis is done. Onto the next one.

    More seriously, it is pretty obvious that humankind is having a profound effect upon life, and habitability, on this third rock from the sun. We make a lot of stuff that we don’t need, and we waste resources based on some notional free market, in the sense that the price signals are all that we have, beyond regulatory action. If somebody thinks people will buy some cheap as sh*t piece of crap, only for it to break on first use and be hurled out, not worth the bother of getting a refund, *then* there will be someone out there who manufactures said piece of crap and someone who is willing to sell said piece of crap.

    Take plastic bags, or the extraordinary packaging of some things. These are not designed for reuse, and we leave most of sorting out of the rubbish to the household. Seems there are many things we can do, or reject doing, that reduce our overall footprint. I’ll add that I am (almost) as guilty as any other Aussie, when it comes to addressing endless packaging and conveniences. Some of the change has to be top-down, or semi-top-down, as well as bottom-up. The right incentives and punishments could shift things a lot.

    BTW, agree with 1 in a 1000 year event as being rather pointless if the parameters (of the statistics) themselves are no longer even approximately constant (on a human generation time scale); a different way of conveying the risk exposure so that the lay-person can get a sense of it is overdue. Perhaps by saying “It was a 1 in 6 months event for a politician to utter `This was a 1 in 1000 year flood/fire/drought.”’

  6. How do you revise the flood probabilities given climate change? Suppose you start off with the estimate of 0.01% of flood and you observe two (or more) severe floods in 10 years. Or suppose you have hard evidence that the atmosphere contains more water vapour. How do you get an updated probability?

  7. H.C.,

    That’s an interesting probability question isn’t it? I am not a mathematician, nor a climate modeller, nor a weather modeller, nor a flood modeller so I can only hazard some guesses. I assume if the occurrence of an outcome of a given repeated event (coin tosses with a specific coin and specific tossing method, floods at a specific location) is to be assigned a probability for an outcome (coin comes up heads, flood comes up to a given flood mark) then we simply need a long enough data series of events to give a probability to a given outcome. If the data series is too short we have a problem (uncertainty bounds will increase).

    However, if the data series is long enough but conditions are changing between events (someone is drilling at random a small hole in one half of the coin between each toss, climate is changing) then we have a new problem. I imagine there is probability math developed to deal with data which shows the probabilities themselves are shifting as the series progresses. I also imagine that modelling will play a big role. Model the climate and flood probabilities as they were before climate change. Add what data we have since. Also model processes like increases in atmospheric moisture to increases in precipitation to increases in floods. We can get an idea I guess, with new boundaries of uncertainty.

    At the pragmatic level. Move Lismore’s main street in the current rebuild. Do not rebuild a single uninhabitable house or unusable premises on the same spot. Leave that spot redeveloped as open parkland. Rebuild houses and structures on higher ground but not where bush-fires and landslides become your next problem. Use government money and assistance to do it. Tax the rich to pay for it.

  8. IMO, Professor Penny Sackett makes it very clear what’s in store for us on our current GHG emissions trajectory in her Submission to the IPCN re the Narrabri Underground Mine Stage 3 Extension, particularly in Table 1, including:

    Warming above the pre-industrial epoch: 1.1 – 1.2°C – This is the current level of warming.

    * 47% of local extinctions reported across the globe during last century can be attributed to climate change.
    * Millions of people are now displaced annually because of weather/climate disasters.
    * Peak heatwaves that occurred only once per 30 years in pre-industrial times in Australia, can now be expected every 5 years.
    * Most years in Australia are now warmer than almost any year in the 20th century.
    * Some NSW forests are near, or have already crossed, local tipping points that would irretrievably alter those ecosystems.
    * Agricultural areas in NSW now experience runoff reduced by 15%, on average.
    * The frequency of very warm days in Australia has increased approximately fivefold compared to the period 1960-1989.
    * Black Summer wildfires occur in Australia in 2019-20. Similar fires happen in California in 2020 and 2021.
    * Temperatures reach 38°C above the Arctic Circle in 2020, and reach 50°C in Canada in 2021.

    Warming above the pre-industrial epoch: 1.5°C – This level of warming will almost certainly be reached, as early as sometime in the 2030s.

    * Peak heatwaves that occurred only once per 30 years in pre-industrial times in Australia, can be expected every 2.7 years.
    * 6% of insects, 8% of plants, and 4% of vertebrates lose over half of their climatically-determined geographic living area.
    * What used to be Australia’s hottest year on record (2019) is now an average year.
    * NSW has 2 – 4 more heatwave days per year than it currently experiences.

    Warming above the pre-industrial epoch: 2.0°C – This level is above the Paris Agreement goal of “holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”.

    * 13% of the Earth’s surface undergoes complete ecosystem transformations.
    * 99% of the world’s coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are eliminated.
    * The number of insects, plants and vertebrates losing over half of their habitat doubles compared to losses at 1.5°C.
    * Moderate risk of large-scale singular events leading to climatic tipping points.
    * The world’s most vulnerable people experience compounding crisis upon crisis.
    * In Australia, considerably higher risk of impacts compared to 1.5°C with regard to:
    _ a) Water stress and drought,
    _ b) Shifts in biomes in major ecosystems, including rainforests,
    _ c) Changes in ecosystems related to the production of food,
    _ d) Deteriorating air quality,
    _ e) Declines in coastal tourism,
    _ f) Loss of coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves,
    _ g) Disruption of marine food webs, loss of fin fish, and ecology of marine species,
    _ h) Heat related mortality and morbidity, and
    _ i) Ozone-related mortality.
    * Black Summer-like weather conditions are four times more common than in 1900.
    * Sydney and Melbourne experience summer temperatures of 50°C.
    * NSW has 4 – 8 more heatwave days per year than it currently experiences.
    * Agricultural areas in NSW experience runoff reduced by 30%.

    Warming above the pre-industrial epoch: 3.0°C – 4.0°C – This level of warming could be a consequence of the world continuing with its current policy settings regarding GHG emissions.

    * Most of the world’s ecosystems are heavily damaged or destroyed.
    * Extreme weather events are far more severe and frequent than today.
    * Large areas of the world become uninhabitable, causing migration and conflict.
    * Aggregated global impacts significantly damage the entire global economy.
    * Peak heatwaves that occurred only once per 30 years in pre-industrial times in Australia expected annually.
    * Megafires to occur in southeast Australia irrespective of whether drought occurs simultaneously.
    * Many locations in Australia become uninhabitable due to water shortages.
    * Many Australian properties and businesses are uninsurable. Severe impacts to both flora and fauna cause many of Australia’s ecological systems to become unrecognisable.
    * Sea level rise transforms Australia’s coastal regions, putting the health and wellbeing of many people at severe risk.
    * NSW has one to two more heatwave weeks per year than it currently experiences.
    * Agricultural areas in NSW experience runoff reduced by 45-60%.
    * Moderately high risk that a cascade of tipping points in the climate system drives the Earth system into a Hothouse Earth state not seen for millions of years, irrespective of humanity’s late attempts to reduce emissions.

    Click to access 220308-penny-sackett_redacted.pdf

    IMO, terms like “1 in 1000 year flood” and even probabilities aren’t understood clearly enough by many people. I think you would need to be an idiot (or in denial) not to understand the clear message presented by Professor Sackett.

  9. Headline we are going to see a lot more of soon:

    “The alarmists were right all along.”

    It will be applied to climate change, COVID-19 and warnings about Russia, China and even USA re totalitarianism.

    “The alarmists were right all along.”

  10. Ikonoclast said – “The refusal of our Federal Government to be involved in climate change prevention, bush fire prevention, pandemic prevention, flood prevention plus the activities of fighting/mitigating/ameliorating these disasters amounts to a complete abrogation of Federal responsibility.”

    I am convinced that the Morrison government’s only genuine climate policy ambition is protecting the fossil fuel sector from increasing emissions reduction ambitions – that the assurances given behind closed doors to Big Coal and Big Gas are assurance they mean to keep.

    The only way it can make any sense is entrenched climate science denial – if not truly holding such views, then pandering to them and exploiting the ignorance and misunderstandings of voters that do.

    I suspect a strong underlying faith – not in God or in Ideology but in the well establish, conservative wealthy being innately wise – and thus a belief that giving them what they want, in this case, no climate responsibility or accountability must turn out for the best.

    I had thought it was more a kind of free market, small government, minimum regulation ideology at work but they’ve shown plenty of willingness to intervene in ways that aren’t compatible with that. Increasingly I think they have no real ideology, no real big picture view and what we are seeing is, quite simply, corruption at work. Not the baksheesh to evade regulations kind of corruption, which would be illegal, but allowing themselves to be unduly influenced, to put aside greater duties of care in order to rewrite regulations so corporate responsibility and accountability can be evaded, which isn’t. But should be.

    It is a profound abrogation of government responsibility that can only exist and persist with ongoing media abrogation of “responsibility” (given their self-styled claims to be about seeking truth and holding power to account – diametrically opposite to their actual amoral business model of persuading the public for money) that even now Morrison and his team have never been pressed to expound on what they really think about climate change, what they think should be done and why.

  11. Proverbs & propaganda today.

    “The alarmists were right all along.”
    – Ikonoclast

    “A kind of free market, quite simply, corruption at work”
    – mrkenfabian

    “That crisis is done. Onto the next one.”
    – Don

    “Entertainment into party propaganda effects .
    – Wang Xiaohui 

    “When truth is missing, proverbs are used to discover it.

    “Truth cannot be sold on the market place, but lies are bought with ready cash.”


    Viab Bob Blaisdell “There’s a Saying for That: Proverbs from Around the World”

  12. There are two proposals in the Conversation piece — (1) change ‘in x years’-talk to probability-talk and (2) update them per Bayes.

    re (1), I haven’t kept up with this stuff in (!!) two decades, but back in the day Gerd Gigerenzer made a big noise about how frequencies are much easier to understand than probabilities. I wonder if the same point applies to “in x years”?

    re (2), at least in the immediate term, it might be more politically useful for green movements if we don’t update the probability estimates. There’s an obvious and powerful incongruence between the claim that each of these disasters is a “1 in a squillion year” event, and the fact that they’re now happening all the time

  13. Nevermind the misleading formulation or the changes in probabilities due to global warming – don´t think those typical press anouncements of 1/100 or 1/1000 where ever correct. Those are simply normal distributions for events that are not quite normal distributed right?

  14. Harry Clarke “How do you revise the flood probabilities given climate change? … How do you get an updated probability?”

    I am surprised you ask this HC. Scomo / premiers don’t even have to be able to do arithmetic to act on BoM and Emergency briefing.

    1) Act on the briefing by experts,
    2) be truthful and
    3 (
    don’t play politics.

    They we’re warned and stopped increased funding for Lismore flood mitigation. ALP seat & most flooded town. No need to ask. Thanks Rex Patrick.

    “#EXCLUSIVE: On the fifth of November “National Cabinet” was briefed on Australia’s upcoming high risk weather season. Obtained under #FOI, here is some of the information that secrecy maniac @ScottMorrison MP doesn’t want you to see. #auspol #climate#transparency”
    — Rex Patrick December 3, 2021″

    “#EXCLUSIVE: Here’s more of what you should absolutely be informed about, but@ScottMorrisonMP thinks is only for him and the premiers/chief ministers to see. Your taxes paid for the analysis, it’s about risks to you and you have a #righttoknow.#auspol #climate #transparency #FOI
    — Rex Patrick December 3, 2021”

    “National cabinet documents obtained by Rex Patrick reveal increased risk of extreme weather events

    “Home Affairs released the documents.

    “Patrick accused Morrison of being “addicted to secrecy”.

    “Two-party-preferred result
    LaborJanelle Saffin 21,856 51.35 +1.57
    National Austin Curtin 20,710 48.65 −1.57
    Labor gain from National Swing+1.57

  15. KT2, whether or not the government is innumerate does not bear on the technical question of how you update priors using Bayes theorem. Somehow you need a model that connects events to the probabilities. Its tough as still the sample variation is fairly low – extreme events are by definition fairly rare. Otherwise you get back to waffle which will convince the believers but which the non-believers will say is inconclusive. The narrative supports increased concern but from a non-probabilistic viewpoint but I haven’t a clue how you would update probabilities.

  16. Harry Clarke,

    I am not a mathematician, and certainly not a mathematician in the arena of probability theory. However, can they not “follow the tail of the distribution” as it evolves?

    What I mean by this is that events from zero rainfall per unit time to extreme rainfall per unit time (the full unit might be rainfall per one day in one place) can be plotted from records. Plot the cumulative record each year from the start of record keeping (year 0). Get distributions for years 0 to 1, 0 to 2, 0 to 3 and so on. Over time, statistical noise will become more and more “muted” but also over time “climate drift”, if it exists, will begin to show itself as the distribution changes (stretching to the right with a longer tail of extreme events).

    I would guess that formulas exist in probability theory, or could be developed, to estimate with margins of error, what is the probability that extreme events of low frequency are more than just noise based on the full series as the tail stretches: that is to say they will tell you the system is changing over time even despite statistical noise. The full series will tell you something as well as just each individual year. The full series may even permit extrapolations when combined with other climate data for forcing.

    A non-specialist’s argument from incredulity or ignorance, “I don’t know a method,” is not conclusive. We have to ask the experts (somehow) if they have a method which they can demonstrate is valid to peers, to the general scientific community and then to the general populace by accurate-enough predictions. Predictive proof may take quite a while of course.

  17. Harry, thanks, I begrudgingly haven to agree I also “The narrative supports increased concern but from a non-probabilistic viewpoint “… but not with “I haven’t a clue how you would update probabilities.”

    Ikon says “A non-specialist’s argument from incredulity or ignorance, “I don’t know a method,” is not conclusive.”

    Clues following…

    JQ, how about a pointer.
    …”Keynes argues here that it is legitimate to update probabilities as new information arrives, but that — paraphrasing him in our terms — the propensity information and its attendant initial probabilities cannot be zero. In the last sentence in the quotation above, Keynes is giving the condition of independence, a condition that is often taken for granted, but that rests on assumptions about …”
    Footnotes to Plato: The many worlds of probability …” › 2018 › 02 › the-many-worlds-of-probability-reality.html

    I’m with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, we have a clue, yet:
    “Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”” “For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.”–BOOK JACKET.
    “The black swan : the impact of the highly improbable”
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    …”Based on the failure or success of safety barriers, 6 levels of severity of consequences, safe, near miss, mishap, incident, and catastrophic accident were considered. Using the prior probability of failure of the barriers, the probability of occurrence of each level of severity of consequences was calculated with the event tree. 
    … to
    “construct a likelihood function and update prior probability using the Bayesian equation. Finally, the posterior probability of occurrence of the consequences was calculated using the posterior probability of failure of the barriers. 

    “Development of a predictive accident model for dynamic risk assessment of propane storage tanks

    “How can one assess probabilities of unique future real-world events? There is no magic formula, but prediction tournaments show that, after recording assessed probabilities and seeing outcomes. one can objectively conclude that some people are better than others at assessing probabilities. The conceptual point is that one can do this even though no-one will ever know the true probabilities (unlikely events do happen, after all). ”

  18. JQ, re “why terms like “1 in 1000 year flood” need to be retired in favor of probabilities, updating using Bayesian reasoning.”

    Via Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science,
    White House presentations for:

    “Advice for the government on communicating uncertainty

    Posted on March 25, 2022
     by Jessica Hullman

    “Yesterday I had the chance to speak at a public session of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The topic was communicating science to the public. 
    [ “Science Communication Presentations: Jessica Hullman, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Arthur Lupia, and Consuelo Wilkins ]

    “So my high level advice was, quantify uncertainty wherever possible and report it with all point estimates. But step two is the need to be strategic about how you communicate it. Verbal phrasing like “masks can help stop the spread” is obviously better than saying “masks stop the spread,” but we shouldn’t assume that verbal expressions are the only way to express uncertainty. There are lots of ways to communicate uncertainty that acknowledge the need to make information engaging and concrete and of varying levels of resolution while also anticipating that people will try hard to ignore it, including:

    -Visualizing it 

    -Use frequency framing including icon arrays

    -Use sets of scenarios or narratives or anecdotes with information about how representative they are

    -Tailor information to different needs and levels of attention (many agencies like CDC do this already), but in doing so, integrate uncertainty information at all levels (which no one seems to be doing well

    -Explicitly acknowledge transitory uncertainty.
    … ”  Amanda Cox’s Budget Forecasts, Compared to Reality chart (adaption here) is a very simple way of expressing past prediction error
    …” labeling data with qualitative quality scores like low, medium and high based on expert guidance could help people adjust their sense of confidence in their decision strategy to the quality of the data that its based on.

    -Label partial expressions of uncertainty (i.e., of risk) incomplete. …
    …”like epidemiological models used to project outcomes under certain scenarios, like the SEIR models behind covid policy, major classes of outcomes are ignored, like behavioral or economic responses.
    …” be labeling forecasts from models in a way that conveys that they are exploratory, like “results of hypothetical experiments.” 

    …”trust has to be built through community leaders first (imagine trying to explain differential privacy concisely to the average person; probably not going to work!) Lupia talked about the need for science communication to separate the recommendations being made (which are based in values that can be contentious depending on politics or ideology) from the evidence, and suggested a template approach to any recs that would separate the two.”

  19. +1 Gerd Gigerenzer;
    [public education to] …”make the public statistically literate and to enforce transparent information policies so that citizens can make informed decisions.” (^1)

    Andrew Gelman says 

    “Good stuff here on three levels: (1) social science theories and models; (2) statistical reasoning and scientific evidence; and (3) science and society.”

    “On the Supposed Evidence for Libertarian Paternalism
    Gerd Gigerenzer

    “Furthermore, in the letters and pamphlets encouraging screening, it is often stated that early detection reduces breast cancer mortality by 20 %. That figure is a second nudge that exploits people’s statistical illiteracy. Screening reduces breast cancer mortality from about 5 to 4 in 1,000 women (after 10 years), which amounts to an absolute risk reduction of 1 in every 1,000. But this figure is typically presented as arelative risk reduction of 20 %, often rounded up to 30 %, to look more impressive (Gigerenzer 2014a, b).

    “This example illustrates the difference between nudging and educating. The aim of the appointment letters is to increase participation rates, not understanding. As a result, women in the European Union are less knowledgeable about the benefit of screening than Russian women, who are not nudged by relative risks and similar persuasive techniques (Gigerenzer et al.2009). Education, by contrast, aims at “a general knowledge among the people” (see introductory epigram), and would require measures to make the public statistically literate and to enforce transparent information policies so that citizens can make informed decisions. But there are often conflicts of interest: in the case of mammography screening, informed citizens might understand that only few women benefit while many are harmed, which would likely decrease participation rates.

    “The example also serves to illustrate the difference between nudging and hard paternalism.”

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