The Truthiness About Catastrophe Models

TruthinessDefJessica Weinkle of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and I have a new paper in press with Science, Technology & Human Values. Here are the details:

The Truthiness About Hurricane Catastrophe Models

Science Technology & Human Values (in press)

29 August 2016

Jessica Weinkle, University of North Carolina-Wilmington

Roger Pielke, Jr., University of Colorado. Boulder

 

Abstract

In recent years, US policymakers have faced persistent calls for the price of flood and hurricane insurance cover to reflect the true or real risk. The appeal to a true or real measure of risk is rooted in two assumptions.  First, scientific research can provide an accurate measure of risk.  Second, this information can and should dictate decision making about the cost of insurance.  As a result, contemporary disputes over the cost of catastrophe insurance coverage, hurricane risk being a prime example, become technical battles over estimating risk. Using examples from the Florida hurricane ratemaking decision context we provide a quantitative investigation of the integrity of these two assumptions.  We argue that catastrophe models are politically stylized views of the intractable problem of precise characterization of the science of hurricane risk.  Faced with many conflicting scientific theories, model theorists use choice and preference for outcomes to develop a model.  Models therefore come to include political positions on relevant knowledge and the risk that society ought to manage.  Earnest consideration of model capabilities and inherent uncertainties may help evolve public debate from one focused on a  “true” or “real” measure of risk, of which there are many, towards one of improved understanding and management of insurance regimes.

Please contact me if you’d like an advance copy.

Third Excerpt from The Edge in The Guardian

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A third excerpt from The Edge has been published in The Guardian this week. It is the third of three such pieces that will appear over the coming weeks.

Here is how it starts:

In difficult social or political contexts, we often hope that science will forge a path to decision making that sidesteps the messiness of culture and values. If only scientists could identify the specific biological factors that distinguish male from female, then the issue of “sex testing” in athletics would be easy to resolve.

But sometimes the most important thing we learn from science is that science cannot perform the political or social work that we’d like it to. In my forthcoming book, The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports, I explore the science and politics of sex testing in elite sport, an issue that continues to bedevil sport administrators. After years looking for and not finding the sex testing Holy Grail via science, it is time to look at alternative ways to determine who is eligible for participation in elite women’s sports.

Read the whole thing here.

Second Excerpt from The Edge in The Guardian

4218A second excerpt from The Edge has been published in The Guardian this week. It is the second of three such pieces that will appear over the coming weeks.

Here is how it starts:

Humans are improved by technology. For instance, I’ll venture that you were vaccinated at an early age against multiple diseases, a technology that has altered the biological fabric of your body in such a way as to enhance your performance against various debilitating, even fatal, diseases.

Athletes are humans too, and they sometimes look for a performance improvement through technological enhancements. In my forthcoming book, The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports, I discuss a range of technological augmentations to both people and to sports, and the challenges that they pose for rule making. In humans, such improvements can be the result of surgery to reshape (like laser eye surgery) or strengthen (such as replacing a ligament with a tendon) the body to aid performance, or to add biological or non-biological parts that the individual wasn’t born with.

Read the whole thing here.