THOMAS POTTER pottert at starpower.net
Wed Dec 8 15:12:38 CST 2010

One of the discussions of perception of risk most compelling to me is the book, Dealing with Risk: Why the Public and the Experts Disagree on Environmental Issues, Howard Margolis (University of Chicago Press, 1996).

Although the book focuses primarily on differences between the public and experts in perceiving risk, the scope of the discussion and the scope of his interests went far beyond that, as evidenced in a rememberance of him on the Univ of Chicago website:


A short review of the book is here:


The following is a quote from the review:

Howard Margolis, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, who has written some notable books about patterns of thought and rationality, offers an important new theoretical perspective to account for why the public and experts disagree about environmental risks. Margolis disputes the conventional wisdom, much of it derived from risk perception data, that expert-lay disagreements are best explained through concepts of power, trust, autonomy, rationality, or ideology. Nor can these disagreements be accounted for by mere lack of information, an idea that has spawned a new field called risk communication. Margolis writes, "What we are seeing is the unconscious using of habits of mind that the very person involved would be likely to deem inappropriate if aware of what is governing intuition."

Excerpts from the book are posted on the web, but the best stuff is not included):


Thomas Potter

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