The uncertainties we face

This nice graphical representation of what we know and don’t know about the risks of various things flashed me back to my PhD research.

I spent 4 years looking at the dynamics of the debate around mobile phone risks as it was happening. This was post-BSE, post-GM, a febrile time when government and its scientific advisers were worried that nobody trusted them. Having learnt the lesson from BSE, in which false reassurances of zero risk later exploded, the more astute science and policy people realised that, with mobile phones, they were faced not with a risk issue, but with one of social and technical uncertainty. In such a situation, the answers given are less important than the questions asked.

Here’s a thing I wrote about it at the time (non-OA journal, sorry).


About Jack Stilgoe

Jack Stilgoe is a senior lecturer in science policy at the department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London.
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