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Why do people fear the wrong things? - Gerd Gigerenzer

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A new drug reduces the risk of heart attacks by 40%. Shark attacks are up by a factor of two. Drinking a liter of soda per day doubles your chance of developing cancer. These are all examples of a common way risk is presented in news articles, and can often be misleading. So how can we better evaluate risk? Gerd Gigerenzer explores the difference between relative and absolute risk.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Director Mateus Moretto
  • Educator Gerd Gigerenzer
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Animator Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Art Director Mateus Moretto
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Editor Elizabeth Cox, Eleanor Nelsen
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Why do we fear things unlikely to cause us harm? Are we capable of learning how to deal with uncertainly? Watch this lesson to learn how we should evaluate risk.

We may know how to read and write, but many of us are risk illiterate. Democracies could be threatened if they lack risk literate citizens. Check our Gerd Gigerenzer's TEDtalk on risk literacy and how everyone could learn to deal with risk and uncertainty. 
 
Check out Gerd's research on the negative consequences incoherent decision making causes.

Do politicians, doctors and journalists understand how relative risks can deceive? Gerd explores the relative risk at the Challenging Models in the Face of Uncertainty conference. 

Whether it's information about the stock market or the probability of disease, it's easy to trust expert analysis in our age of big data. Want to know how you can become a better decision maker? Check out Gerd's book on how to become a better decision maker. Gerd Gigerenzer: Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions. Penguin Books. Reading statistical numbers is also important in being media literate. Check out Gerd Gigerenzer's Calculated risks: How to know when numbers deceive you.

For more on navigating around day-to-day media literacy, check out Harding Center for Risk Literacy. 
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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Director Mateus Moretto
  • Educator Gerd Gigerenzer
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Animator Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Art Director Mateus Moretto
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Editor Elizabeth Cox, Eleanor Nelsen
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more