One thing that surprised me from the Spiegelhalter interview was his emphasis on using colloquial terms to the public. He mentioned this in the context of COVID and discussed the importance of speaking in words that the public understands. He often uses the expected frequency idea that says, for example, "out of 100 people, we expect this many people to die from covid". While this makes sense to me, it is a bit surprising that the experts need to "dumb it down" for the general audience, given that they specialize in this. We see this in many fields beyond healthcare. For example, meteorologists need to explain the weather in very basic terms stating the "real feel" temperature to the public. Obviously, there are many factors that help generate that number, but the public doesn't care about this. In a way, it feels like we are hiding information to the public when we only give the "user-friendly" version. It seems like there should be two explanations: 1.) the technical one for experts and those who are curious about the topic 2.) the basic explanation for those who do not care about all the details and just want to know the "sparknotes" version. Having two explanations can satisfy everyone.
In this interview, Spiegelhalter discussed the idea of running simulations and their role in helping to predict the future. I would be curious to ask Spiegelhalter two questions. The first question is if he thinks we will ever live in a time where the models and simulations will begin to predict events with 100 percent accuracy? For example, will there be a day, maybe in the year 3000, when we can predict the weather to the exact degree and wind speed without fail? Due to its chaotic nature and concepts like the butterfly effect, this idea seems so far away, but maybe Spiegelhalter has alternative thoughts. If he thinks there will be a time when this is possible, my next question is how will this change our lives? Obviously, it would be amazing to predict exactly what will happen. However, will we lose some of the zest for life when we know everything that will occur?
Hi Chris! I also commented on the relaying of colloquial terms to the public. I feel like it is super interesting how alienating some data can be. Lots of people want to be educated on their health, but oftentimes dont have the resources to properly understand the issues that they're facing.
I want to attempt to answer a question that you posed, asking "how will knowing things at 100% certainty change our lives?." I feel like this is an interesting conundrum. Some people might be more daring in their actions, while others might be more cautious. I do feel like these 100% known predictions will actually help people remain safer.