Risk Management

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 7–17 | Cite as

Seven Myths of Risk

  • Sven Ove Hansson
Research Article

Abstract

Communication between experts and the public has turned out to be unusually difficult in the field of risk research. These difficulties are closely connected to a series of recalcitrant misconceptions of risk and its social preconditions. In this paper, seven of the most pernicious myths of risk are exposed, namely: first, that ‘risk’ must have a single, well-defined meaning; second, that the severity of risks should be judged according to probability-weighted averages of the severity of their outcomes; third, that decisions on risk should be made by weighing total risks against total benefits; fourth, that decisions on risk should be taken by experts rather than by laymen; fifth, that risk-reducing measures in all sectors of society should be decided according to the same standards; sixth, that risk assessments should be based only on well-established scientific facts; and seventh, that if there is a serious risk, then scientists will find it if they look for it.

Keywords

Risk risk communication risk analysis cost-benefit analysis sound science 

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Ove Hansson
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy Unit, Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholm

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