Sunday, February 07, 2010

Subjectivism is a Fact of Life

Many scientists, and especially classically trained statisticians believe that science should be objective and tend to reject methodologies that are based on subjectivism. However, effective risk analysis requires that risk analysts make subjective judgments throughout the analytical process. As observed by David Vose (2008, p. 215):
For the risk analyst, subjectivism is a fact of life. Each model one builds is only an approximation of the real world. Decisions about the structure and acceptable accuracy of the risk analyst's model are very subjective. Added to all this, the risk analyst must very often rely on subjective estimates for many model inputs, frequently without any data to back them up.
Bottomline, subjective judgments matter, even in quantitative risk analysis.

Reference: Vose, D (2008), Risk Analysis: A Quantitative Guide (3rd ed), Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

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