The 6th World Skeptics Congress in Berlin in May 2012 had the topic “Promoting Science in an Age of Uncertainty”. While the main focus of the congress was on pseudoscience, creationism and alternative medicine, one of the aspects discussed was the rationality of human risk assessment. The Saturday afternoon session featured Professor Walter Krämer, mathematician and one of Germany’s most renowned authors on risk perception and statistics (“So lügt man mit Statistik”, “Die Angst der Woche: Warum wir uns vor den falschen Dingen fürchten”) and a presentation by Holm Hümmler.
Holm Hümmler’s talk focused on the question if the structures of a company and the teachings of business schools make people’s decisions more rational or just irrational in a different way than those of humans acting on their private behalf. The talk touched on the role of financial risk management as a way of dealing with future uncertainties, Nassim Taleb’s popular book The Black Swan and the decisions leading up to the 2009 financial crisis. The complete presentation is available for download here: