Is Risk Analysis a Source of Misinformation? The Undermining Effects of Uncertainty on Credibility
16 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2022
The practice of risk analysis and management involves uncertainty. When negative risk events occur, as they often do, it’s not apparent whether the event resulted from properly conducted risk analysis and management, or from improper work, intent to mislead, or other types of misinformation. Additionally, risk management involves decision-making, such that inherently subjective values are imposed upon the scientific analysis. As a result, disagreement is an expected component of any risk analysis or management activity. The question then arises: Can properly conducted risk analysis and management be instead interpreted as misinformation? If so, what are the boundaries between properly conducted risk analysis/management, and misinformation? This paper conducts an investigation of those questions by: 1) Evaluating the existing literature to define constructs of subjectivity and objectivity as they relate to risk analysis, risk management, and misinformation, 2) Defining characteristics of information generated from a properly conducted risk analysis/management and those that generate misinformation, recognizing that areas of overlap are the most concerning and in need for further investigation, 3) Demonstrating an evaluation of information using the newly defined characteristics on a case study involving energy infrastructure management, and 4) Addressing the implications for the practice of risk analysis and management.
Keywords: Risk, management, information, misinformation, disinformation
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