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David Ropeik

Big Think Contributor, "Risk, Reason & Reality"

I'm an Instructor at Harvard, a consultant in risk perception and risk communication, author of How Risky Is it, Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts, and principal co-author of RISK, A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You. I run a program called Improving Media Coverage of Risk. I was the Director of Risk Communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, part of the Harvard School of Public Health, for 4 years, prior to which I was a TV reporter, specializing in environmental issues, for a local station in Boston for 22 years.

Less News is Bad News for the News Business

             My career as a reporter spanned a remarkable time in local TV news, of both incredible journalistic creativity and commitment, and a profit-driven abandonment of journalism’s civic responsibility to […]

The Bitter Battle Over Sugar

Update: A couple hours ago, a judge struck down the New York City ban on large-sized sodas as arbitrary and capricious, in part because the ban did not also include […]

How Risky IS Flying? It Depends.

            The New York Times reports that an MIT statistics professor has found that flying on a commercial jet has never been safer. Not that it was ever that much […]

EDGE Big Thinkers Miss a BIG Worry

Getting risk wrong leads to dangers all by itself, and we will remain vulnerable to these mistakes until we let go of our naïve post-Enlightenment faith in reason and accept that risk perception is inescapably an affective system, not just a matter of rationally figuring out the facts. 

Dealing With the Danger of Cognitive Hubris

Smug confidence in human reason, and the belief that once fully educated and informed people will then make the objectively ‘right’ decision about risk, only widens the gap and increases the danger.

Why DO We Live In Harm’s Way?

            If you look east from most places in Seattle, you can see majestic Mt. Rainier looming tall and snow covered 80 miles to the west. Mt. Rainier is not […]