How to Live with Uncertainty
By Dylan Evans
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781451610901, 288pp.)
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
We must make judgments all the time when we can’t be certain of the risks. Should we have that elective surgery? Trust the advice of our financial adviser? Take that new job we’ve been offered? How worried should we be about terrorist attacks? In this lively and groundbreaking book, pioneering researcher Dylan Evans introduces a newly discovered kind of intelligence for assessing risks, demonstrating how vital this risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our RQs in order to make better decisions every day.
Evans has spearheaded the study of risk intelligence, devising a simple test to measure a person’s RQ which when posted online sparked a storm of interest and was taken by tens of thousands of people. His research has revealed that risk intelligence is quite different from IQ, and that the vast majority of us have quite poor risk intelligence. However, he did find some people who have very high RQs. So what makes the difference? Introducing a wealth of fascinating research findings, Evans identifies a key set of common errors in our thinking that most of us fall victim to and that undermine our risk intelligence, such as “ambiguity aversion,” overconfidence in our knowledge, the fallacy of mind reading, and our attraction to worst-case scenarios. We are also regularly led astray by the ways in which information is provided to us. Citing a wide range of real-life examples— from the brilliant risk assessment skills of horse race handicappers to the tragically flawed evaluations of risk that caused the financial crisis—Evans illustrates that sometimes our most trusted advisers, including the experts and analysts at the top of their disciplines, don’t always give us the best advice when it comes to risk evaluation.
Presenting his revolutionary test that allows readers to evaluate their own RQs, Evans introduces a number of simple techniques we can use to build our risk assessment powers and reports on the striking results he’s seen in training people to develop their RQs. Both highly engaging and truly mind-changing, Risk Intelligence will fascinate all of those who are interested in how we can improve our thinking in order to enhance our lives.
Dylan Evans is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Emotion: The Science of Sentiment and Placebo: The Belief Effect. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the London School of Economics and is a lecturer in behavioral science at University College Cork School of Medicine in Ireland. He writes regularly for the Guardian and has appeared regularly on BBC radio.