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Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty

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A groundbreaking book on the newly discovered special kind of intelligence for assessing risks, by the leading researcher in the field, revealing how vital risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our “RQ” and make better decisions. We must make judgments all the time when we can’t be certain of the risks. Should we have that elective surgery? Trust the ad A groundbreaking book on the newly discovered special kind of intelligence for assessing risks, by the leading researcher in the field, revealing how vital risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our “RQ” and make better decisions. 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.


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A groundbreaking book on the newly discovered special kind of intelligence for assessing risks, by the leading researcher in the field, revealing how vital risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our “RQ” and make better decisions. We must make judgments all the time when we can’t be certain of the risks. Should we have that elective surgery? Trust the ad A groundbreaking book on the newly discovered special kind of intelligence for assessing risks, by the leading researcher in the field, revealing how vital risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our “RQ” and make better decisions. 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.

30 review for Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    A fascinating topic, but I couldn't even finish the book because it rambled and was utterly annoying. A fascinating topic, but I couldn't even finish the book because it rambled and was utterly annoying.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mahé

    This book is a great balance of academic knowledge, original and authentic thinking supported by research and pertinent surveys. The concept of 'Risk Intelligence' is brought to the reader in a smooth flowing manner with lots of information, references and surprising anecdotes that makes a very useful, interesting and fun read. A must read. This book is a great balance of academic knowledge, original and authentic thinking supported by research and pertinent surveys. The concept of 'Risk Intelligence' is brought to the reader in a smooth flowing manner with lots of information, references and surprising anecdotes that makes a very useful, interesting and fun read. A must read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yusif Mammadli

    The topic is really interesting one and I believe many people actually lack risk intelligence in daily life. It would be good to get some insights on how to deal with risky situations, how to tackle hard decisions with probabilities etc. The book promises to teach you how to learn risk intelligence, however, most of the book (8 out of 9 chapters) contains mainly examples and kind of feels like a sales pitch for the author. Nonetheless, the book is really interesting and some examples/experiments The topic is really interesting one and I believe many people actually lack risk intelligence in daily life. It would be good to get some insights on how to deal with risky situations, how to tackle hard decisions with probabilities etc. The book promises to teach you how to learn risk intelligence, however, most of the book (8 out of 9 chapters) contains mainly examples and kind of feels like a sales pitch for the author. Nonetheless, the book is really interesting and some examples/experiments are really unexpected. Unfortunately, the big promise of teaching you how to deal with Risk Intelligence is unanswered in my opinion. The author gives examples and some ways to deal with them, but it lacks a structural approach or a framework which you can follow to teach yourself how to deal with probabilities. You can, of course, take some insights from the book that indirectly shows you the ways to deal with the daily decisions, taking into account the probabilities of events and how to apply your knowledge according to the situation. As I said the topic is really interesting and I believe very important, and it is always good to be aware of your surroundings, your knowledge that you can apply to the situations, or (that’s the most important) you should know when to stop and not go forward because of the level of uncertainty. This last point can be seen as cowardice, but you should not consider this as chickening out. It would rather be the wisest decision sometimes, considering the fact that, you weighed all your options, analyzed pros and cons of the situation and came to a conclusion that going forward with this or that decision is not worth it. As a conclusion you should neither be overconfident (believing you know more than you actually know, overestimating your knowledge regarding specific situation)) nor underconfident (believing you know less than you actually know, underestimating your knowledge regarding specific situation). Of course, this is the ideal and the most rational situation. BUT, I believe some overconfidence is always a good thing, in some situations. It helps you to eliminate the competition, who are underconfident.  Below there are some experiments that attracted my attention: The excerpt below is about the importance of evidence: “Despite the old saw that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. In many cases it is. It can often be safely assumed that if a certain event had occurred or a particular thing existed, evidence of it would probably have been discovered. In such circumstances, it is perfectly reasonable for the absence of evidence as positive proof of its nonoccurrence or nonexistence. The fact that no mermaids have ever been discovered is strong evidence that, unfortunately, mermaids do not exist.” Below experiment is very interesting. I was so sure that I got the right answer, obviously, I did not. So be ready to get it wrong. Hint: It is not the obvious answer, obviously  “Experiment: Every day, Fred gets the 8:00 A.M. bus to work. Ten per cent of the time the bus is early and leaves before 8:00 and 10 per cent of the time, the bus is very late and departs after 8:10. The rest of the time, it departs between 8:00 and 8:10. One morning Fred arrives at the bus stop at 8:00 A.M. exactly and waits for ten minutes without the bus arriving. What is the probability that the bus will still arrive? When this question was posed to a group of psychology students at the University of Oslo, they got into trouble. Some claimed that Fred would still have a 90 per cent chance of catching the bus since he had arrived on time. Others insisted that he had only a 10 per cent chance since the bus is rarely more than ten minutes late. In fact, neither of the answers is correct. The correct answer is that Fred has a Fred chance of catching the bus. After Fred has waited for ten minutes he can eliminate the 80 per cent chance of a bus arriving between 8:00 and 8:10, because he knows it did not arrive in that interval. Only two possibilities remain: either the bus arrived ahead of schedule, or it will arrive more than ten minutes late. Both outcomes are rare, but as they are equally rare, we must assign each outcome an equal chance. Since the two outcomes are mutually exclusive, and there are no other possibilities, we should assign each a probability of 50 per cent…” Ability to adapt. Below example was really unexpected and unbelievable for me, I could never imagine someone doing something like this: “One particularly dramatic example of the ability to adapt comes from a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011. A team of researchers in France and Belgium studied the self-reported quality of life in sixty-five people with locked-in syndrome (LIS). LIS sounds horrific. It involves near-total paralysis, including the muscles of speech, so you are mute, and the inability to move all four limbs while remaining perfectly conscious. The only muscles to remain under conscious control are those around the eyes, so that making vertical eye movements or blinking is the only means of communication. That is how the journalist Jean-Domonique Bauby wrote his famous memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He wrote the entire nook by blinking his left eyelid; a transcriber repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E, S, A, R, I, N, T, U, I, etc.), UNTIL Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write, and an average word took approximately two minutes to “dictate” in this way.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna Maconochie

    Evans' thorough investigation into how we make decisions is an eye-opener. Whether you are a parent, a gambler, a politician or a security guard or just want to improve your risk intelligence, this is a must-read. Stylishly written with fascinating examples, this is a highly enjoyable, rigorously academic book that will seep into your everyday thoughts. Evans' thorough investigation into how we make decisions is an eye-opener. Whether you are a parent, a gambler, a politician or a security guard or just want to improve your risk intelligence, this is a must-read. Stylishly written with fascinating examples, this is a highly enjoyable, rigorously academic book that will seep into your everyday thoughts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    Though provoking popular psychology of the decision-making process. Not as clear as it ought to be about the cognitive and emotional difference between assessing uncertainty and assessing ambiguity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    If you want to increase your ability to decide things in a rational manner this book could help you. Warning contains mathematical concepts that might throw you off.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Siow

    Contains bits and pieces of information recycled from other books. Emphasizes the importance of rational analysis of risks, but becomes a bit too draggy after a while.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cem

    Lightweight.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nex Juice

    Most interesting to me about this book was - what happened to the author?! I went to take the RQ test (risk intelligence) at the website listed in the book - projectionpoint.com - and it is nowhere to be found. The author himself is not on any social media, and my boyfriend discovered that he was actually institutionalized in a mental hospital for 4 months. Hard to determine what happened to him after that, but please let me know if you find out! In terms of the content of the book, here are the Most interesting to me about this book was - what happened to the author?! I went to take the RQ test (risk intelligence) at the website listed in the book - projectionpoint.com - and it is nowhere to be found. The author himself is not on any social media, and my boyfriend discovered that he was actually institutionalized in a mental hospital for 4 months. Hard to determine what happened to him after that, but please let me know if you find out! In terms of the content of the book, here are the highlights I found most interesting. 1) The concept of numeracy. The ability to communicate in the language of numbers. Americans tend to be offended or insecure if they are considered illiterate (the language of words) - but fairly comfortable when it comes to being innumerate. I agree with the author that we would all benefit from being more comfortable with numbers and numeracy. I also think it would help us to manage our financial lives better. 2) Risk intelligence is the ability to assign probabilities to outcomes of different situations in life. It is best not only to determine the probability of a certain outcome, but also your level of confidence in that probability. For example, you may be 72% confident that there is a 35% chance of a certain outcome. 3) The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, a 1944 book by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, draws many lessons from the analysis of poker. To determine whether or not you should take a gamble, you add two numbers. To determine the first number, you multiply your chance of winning (%) by the amount you stand to win ($). To determine the second number, you multiply your chance of losing (%) by the amount you stand to lose ($). If the result is positive, you should take the gamble. (According to their theory) If it is negative, you should not. You can apply this to every day life like whether or not you should ask someone out on a date. Hehe!

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Cumming

    An eye opening read on the psychological nature of risk and decision making, including our tendencies, traps and, more importantly, means of tempering them. While the book talks about Bayesian probability and Expected Utility, it never strays into complex maths or mind bending reasoning. It is always straightforward and insightful. As an agile coach, the concepts in this book are bound to have impact on me, I’m looking forward to seeing how.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aarif Billah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Honestly the first book on risk I've read. An unfamiliar topic for more. Most definitely will read more on such a topic. My reading notes can be read on my blog. . . Link: https://aarifbillah.com/2019/11/03/ri... Honestly the first book on risk I've read. An unfamiliar topic for more. Most definitely will read more on such a topic. My reading notes can be read on my blog. . . Link: https://aarifbillah.com/2019/11/03/ri...

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Rickards

    If you only read one psychology book from the CSAF's list, don't read this one. The other two are much better (especially Thinking Fast and Slow). If you only read one psychology book from the CSAF's list, don't read this one. The other two are much better (especially Thinking Fast and Slow).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Wilber

    This got a little wonky in sections, which is why I had to put it down for a while and try it again. He made some good points but it was hard to focus on them at times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    The book has one main premise, one controversial but interesting proposition and one main useful idea/tool: that risk intelligence and risk quotients are as important as IQ or emotional intelligence, but underrated and undervalued (as well as much less common); that a lot of the failures of the banking industry are because the new breed of quants did not have the same level of intrinsic risk intelligence as the old style gamblers and thought risk was something which could be eliminated; that ris The book has one main premise, one controversial but interesting proposition and one main useful idea/tool: that risk intelligence and risk quotients are as important as IQ or emotional intelligence, but underrated and undervalued (as well as much less common); that a lot of the failures of the banking industry are because the new breed of quants did not have the same level of intrinsic risk intelligence as the old style gamblers and thought risk was something which could be eliminated; that risk intelligence can be measured by a variation of the confidence interval exercise by putting a series of facts and asking people to give a confidence estimate they are correct and plotting the number actually true for each percentage over the percentage (ideally this is a straight x = y line). The book starts promisingly but then appears to lose its way (although it’s easy to skim and pick out the useful ideas as above). The author deliberately picks different examples as many of the ideas he talks about have been (he acknowledges) widely covered elsewhere but this takes him into strange areas (e.g. an obsession with the Iraq war which gets a little tiresome and some strange musings on alien life), he also seems to get muddled (he says that rating agencies ratings are useless as they are qualitative and not quantitative but then in the same section shows how bad the quantitative assessment of CDOs was).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nikola Samardzic

    I feel that many concepts in the book seem very simple to people, but they non-the-less repeat the mistakes that the book warns us against. At least in my case, through some introspection I could arrive at a lot personal examples of my actions that could have been carried out more wisely have I read the book before. I think this is as good a recommendations as any.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A very solid book about a complicated issue. Not too much math (hint: it's all about probabilities) and very well written. The end of the book seems to just taper off as if the author's minimum word count had been reached, not offering much of a closing. Nevertheless, there are some great tools for the toolbox in here. I feel a Quizlet coming on! A very solid book about a complicated issue. Not too much math (hint: it's all about probabilities) and very well written. The end of the book seems to just taper off as if the author's minimum word count had been reached, not offering much of a closing. Nevertheless, there are some great tools for the toolbox in here. I feel a Quizlet coming on!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raj Rajkumar

    I couldn't finish this book. While I understand and appreciate the author's retelling of established research findings on the frailty of experts and the human inability to gauge probabilities, I felt that the RQ metric and techniques for improving Risk Intelligence were just commercial drivel--marketing collateral to sell consulting services. I couldn't finish this book. While I understand and appreciate the author's retelling of established research findings on the frailty of experts and the human inability to gauge probabilities, I felt that the RQ metric and techniques for improving Risk Intelligence were just commercial drivel--marketing collateral to sell consulting services.

  18. 5 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by The Guardian (7 Oct 2012 KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by The Guardian (7 Oct 2012

  19. 5 out of 5

    James Morrison

    The concepts and perception in the book seem original in many ways. Evaluating risk is tricky business and I think he contributes to a systematic approach to the problem.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eli Mernit

    The breakthrough book that exposed me to economic thinking. There may be equivalent substitutes, but this book is a great primer to the subject.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    Strong explanations of our willingness to take risks/not.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Had an impact on my view of daily reality. Little do we realize the extent to which we rely on statistics and probability all the time -- innately and via culture.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Umakanth Pai

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judah Cliff Bayawon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bob Peterson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lydia D.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniele

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maven Publishing

  29. 5 out of 5

    Costa Kazistov

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yanick Punter

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