Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (2008), Gabriele Bammer and Michael Smithson (eds), Earthscan Risk in Society Series, London, 382pp. Available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book.
Brief overview of book
Uncertainty governs our lives. From the unknowns of living with the risks of terrorism to developing policies on genetically modified foods, or disaster planning for catastrophic climate change, how we conceptualize, evaluate and cope with uncertainty drives our actions and deployment of resources, decisions and priorities.
In this thorough and wide-ranging volume, theoretical perspectives are drawn from art history, complexity science, economics, futures, history, law, philosophy, physics, psychology, statistics and theology. On a practical level, uncertainty is examined in emergency management, intelligence, law enforcement, music, policy and politics. Key problems that are a subject of focus are environmental management, communicable diseases and illicit drugs. Opening and closing sections of the book provide major conceptual strands in uncertainty thinking and develop an integrated view of the nature of uncertainty, uncertainty as a motivating or de-motivating force, and strategies for coping and managing under uncertainty.
- Scan the book: Download Chapter 1 of Uncertainty and Risk (1.44KB PDF)
- Search inside book via: Amazon, Google Books
- For introductions to uncertainty, see on this website: Integration Insights #7 (Understanding Uncertainty), Integration Insights #8 (Uncertainty: Metaphors, Motives and Morals), Integration Insights #9 (Coping with Deep Uncertainty)
Contents of Uncertainty and Risk
- Part I: Setting the Scene
- Introduction (Gabriele Bammer & Michael Smithson)
- The Many Faces and Masks of Uncertainty (Michael Smithson)
- Adopting Orphans: Uncertainty and Other Neglected Aspects of Complex Problems (Gabriele Bammer)
- Part II: More than a Cabinet of Curiosities: Disciplinary and Practice Perspectives on Uncertainty
- When Action Can’t Wait: Investigating Infectious Disease Outbreaks (Aileen J. Plant)
- Uncertainty and Religion: Ten Provisional Theses (Stephen Pickard)
- Uncertainty in the Physical Sciences: How Big? How Small? Is It Actually There At All? (Stephen J. Buckman)
- Statistics: An Essential Tool for Model Citizens (Robyn G. Attewell)
- A Philosopher’s Guide to Probability (Alan Hájek)
- Musical Improvisation, Creativity and Uncertainty (John Mackey)
- Uncertainty as a Creative Force in Visual Art (Sasha Grishin)
- Historians and Disputes over Uncertainty (Ann Curthoys)
- Approaches to Uncertain Futures (Kate Delaney)
- Embracing Social Uncertainties with Complex Systems Science (Pascal Perez)
- Heroin: Injected with Uncertainty (Alison Ritter)
- Political Practice: Uncertainty, Ethics and Outcomes (Michael Moore)
- Smoke and Mirrors: Managing Uncertainty in the Public Health Sector (Liz Furler)
- Economists and Uncertainty (John Quiggin)
- Psychology’s Ambivalent View of Uncertainty (Michael Smithson)
- Uncertainty in Decision-making: Intelligence as a Solution (Steve Longford)
- Emergency Management Thrives on Uncertainty (John Handmer)
- Uncertainty, Complexity and the Environment (Stephen Dovers, Michael Hutchinson, David Lindenmayer, Adrian Manning, Frank Mills, Paul Perkins, Jason Sharples and Ian White)
- Uncertainty, Terrorism and Law Enforcement (Michael McFadden, Rod Lyon and Roy Pinsker)
- Certainty as Illusion: The Nature and Purpose of Uncertainty in the Law (Judith S. Jones)
- Part III: Unifying Diversity
- The Nature of Uncertainty (Gabriele Bammer, Michael Smithson and the Goolabri Group)
- Uncertainty Metaphors, Motives and Morals (Michael Smithson, Gabriele Bammer and the Goolabri Group)
- Coping and Managing under Uncertainty (Michael Smithson, Gabriele Bammer and the Goolabri Group
- Part IV: Implications for Risk Assessment and Management
- Coping with Deep Uncertainty: Challenges for Environmental Assessment and Decision-making (Roger E. Kasperson)
- Risk, Uncertainty and Social Controversy: From Risk Perception and Communication to Public Engagement (Nick Pidgeon)
Book launch of Uncertainty and Risk
Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives was launched by Professor Michael Wesley, Griffith Asia Institute and ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, on 8 May 2008 at The Australian National University.
Audio recording is available as an MP3 file.
SlowTV video recording (two part) of the book launch via The Monthly’s YouTube account:
Part 1 of 2: Professor Michael Wesley’s presentation
Part 2 of 2 – Professor Michael Wesley’s presentation
Three photographs from the book launch of Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Those involved in the book launch on 8 May 2008 were, from left to right above, Professor Lawrence Cram (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, The Australian National University), Professor Michael Wesley (Griffith Asia Institute and ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security), Professor Gabriele Bammer (National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University and Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University), Associate Professor Alison Ritter (Director, Drug Policy Modelling Program, University of New South Wales), and Professor Michael Smithson (School of Psychology, The Australian National University).
Launching the book and discussing ‘Risk, Uncertainty and the Future of National Security’ was Professor Michael Wesley (Griffith Asia Institute and ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security).
About the editors of Uncertainty and Risk (at time of publication)
- Gabriele Bammer is a Professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University and a Research Fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University.
- Michael Smithson is a Professor at the School of Psychology at The Australian National University.
Reviews from the back cover of the book
“This is a major, and deeply thoughtful, contribution to understanding uncertainty and risk. Our world and its unprecedented challenges need such ways of thinking! Much more than a set of contributions from different disciplines, this book leads you to explore your own way of perceiving your own area of work. An outstanding contribution that will stay on my shelves for many years”. Dr Neil T. M. Hamilton, Director, WWF International Arctic Programme.
“This collection of essays provides a unique and fascinating overview of perspectives on uncertainty and risk across a wide variety of disciplines. It is a valuable and accessible sourcebook for specialists and laypeople alike”. Professor Renate Schubert, Head of the Institute for Environmental Decisions and Chair of Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
“This comprehensive collection of disciplinary perspectives on uncertainty is a definitive guide to contemporary insights into this Achilles’ heel of modernity and the endemic hubris of institutional science in its role as public authority. It gives firm foundations to the fundamental historic shift now underway in the world, towards normalizing acceptance of the immanent condition of ignorance and of its practical corollaries: contingency, uncontrol, and respect for difference”. Brian Wynne, Professor of Science Studies, Lancaster University.
“Bammer and Smithson have assembled a fascinating, important collection of papers on uncertainty and its management. The integrative nature of Uncertainty and Risk makes it a landmark in the intellectual history of this vital cross-disciplinary concept”. George Cvetkovich, Director, Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University.
External reviews (last updated June 2012)
- Peace, Chris. (2012). Living with Uncertainty [review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. In, Risk Management Ltd. Retrieved June 2012, from from: https://i2s.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Uncertainty.pdf.
- Regős, Gábor (2012). [Review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. Journal of Risk and Insurance, 79, 2: 591-593.
- Misra, Krishna B. (2010). Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives [review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. International Journal of Performability Engineering, 6, 6: 594.
- Heyman, Bob. (2009). Risk and Uncertainty: A Review of Three Recent Texts [review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. Health, Risk & Society, 11, 1: 87-90.
- Simons, Greg. (2009). Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives [review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 17, 2: 141-141.
- Ignorance and uncertainty: Academic Orphans. (2008). [Review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. Decision Point, 23, October. Retrieved June 2015, from: https://i2s.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/DPoint_23.pdf.
- Eckermann , Liz. (2008). Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives [review of the book Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives]. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 35, 1.