Stephen Colbert: Brilliant distorter of risk

This comes at the end of a discussion on the October 2, 2014 Colbert Report between Colbert (playing the sensationalist news reporter role) and a scientist (whose name I couldn’t understand) downplaying any real potential outbreak of ebola after the announcement that a man in Texas came down with ebola

Colbert: Cards on the table time, alright? Does someone else come down with Ebola because this guy had ebola?
Scientist: There might be one secondary case…
Colbert: So there might be a 100% increase in ebola in the United States!!!
Scientist: (with sarcasm) That is correct!
Colbert: Ok, thank you for that shocking news doctor!

Perfect example of using relative risk versus absolute risk to mislead!

For research papers on perceptions of relative versus absolute risk, check out Baron (1997), Gigerenzer & Edwards (2003) and Gigerenzer et al. (2007)

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