On 4 May, the IFoA held its Spring Lecture in London, delivered by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter OBE FRS (pictured right), an expert on probability and statistics. Spiegelhalter is a distinguished British statistician and Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He was also recently elected as an IFoA Honorary Fellow and was presented with his award at the start of the lecture from IFoA president Fiona Morrison.
Spiegelhalter is a distinguished British statistician and Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He was also recently elected as an IFoA Honorary Fellow and was presented with his award at the start of the lecture from IFoA president Fiona Morrison.
An audience of over 200 attended the lecture at the British Library, which was also viewed at almost 300 locations around the world - from Bermuda to Australia - via the livestream.
In his lecture, Spiegelhalter stressed the importance of understanding the beliefs and concerns of target audiences when communicating risks, and tailoring messaging accordingly. The way probabilities are presented can make a difference to the way an audience perceives them and, ultimately, how they will make decisions.
Spiegelhalter feels very strongly that there is an ethical duty to provide balanced and clear information. To enable audiences to fully understand the risks being communicated, and lessen the chance of misinterpretation, he suggested finding a 'common language' to allow the public to decide reasonable risks for themselves. He concluded the lecture by stating that the public, media, professionals and policymakers have the right to receive quantitative evidence in a way that is not manipulated and that is appropriate for the decision being faced.
The Spring Lecture also provided the opportunity for Finlaison medallist Adrian Waddingham CBE to formally thank the profession for this honour. Waddingham received his medal at the IFoA Awards Dinner in March in recognition of the service he has given to the actuarial profession, including the prominence he gave to the profession in his recent service as Sheriff of the City of London.
Morrison also presented an Honorary Fellowship to Dr Madhavi Bajekal, senior research fellow at University College London.
Bajekal is a longstanding member of the IFoA's Mortality Research Steering Committee, which has involved her leading on a number of events and seminars that have supported the IFoA's research and policy interests.
Watch the Spring Lecture online at bit.ly/1YcLyBa