Why how we assess risk and evidence matters

  • Giada Fratantonio (Speaker)

Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar


In collaboration with Italian High School A. Frattini (Varese), I introduced a group of high-schoolers to some of the foundational issues about the epistemology and psychology of risk, focusing on the following three questions:

i) How should we evaluate risk?
ii) How do we tend to evaluate risk?
iii) Why how we assess risk matters?

After learning about the basic principles of probability, as well as the cognitive biases that often underpin our risk judgments, the students discussed why it's important to be vigilant in how we perceive and assess risk.

To use an example, I asked the students to consider conspiracy theories they found on the internet, and discussed ways in which believing in conspiracy theories can be problematic not only from an epistemic point of view, but from a practical and ethical perspective as well. For instance, students reflected on how the spreading of conspiracy theories could have the effect of undermining rational debate and fostering mistrust in scientific communities. The lectures were followed by a lively discussion with the students, who were able to think about how they engage with social media, and how they consume information on the internet. Finally, in line with the spirit of the Varieties of Risk Project, the students discussed how our emotional response to risk, despite often irrational, might be able to indicate us what we care about the most.

These series of lectures were officially acknowledged as part of the high-school's 36 hours of Civic Education, compulsory in every Italian School.
Period8 Feb 2021 → …
Event titleWhy how we assess risk and evidence matters
Event typeCourse


  • Risk management
  • Evidence
  • conspiracy theories
  • Social Media