Charts of darkness

May 4, 2001

Risky business, these statistics. Ten years ago, the Royal Society was riven by a row between scientists and social scientists over whether risk could be assessed objectively by statistical methods. The social scientists, who wanted real people's views taken into account, were cast into darkness.

But things change. When consumer champion Baroness Wilcox, asked the society's meeting last week if work was being done on "Richter scales of risk", she was roundly told by Department of Environment chief scientist David Fisk that "Richter scales are for Neanderthals".

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