October 2010

When will Australia’s coal run out?

26 October 2010

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) estimates that Australia has 90 years of coal left. But they don’t seem to understand exponential growth. If production continues to grow, it won’t last nearly this long.

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Generate your own Risk Characterization Theatre

25 October 2010

In the recent posts Visualizing Smoking Risk and Shades of grey I wrote about the use of “Risk Characterization Theatres” (RCTs) to communicate probabilities. I found the idea in the book The Illusion of Certainty, by Eric Rifkin and Edward Bouwer. Here is how they explain the RCTs: Most of us are familiar with the crowd in a […]

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Shades of grey

23 October 2010

The recent post on the risks of smoking looked at Rifkin and Bouwer’s “Risk Characterization Theatre” (RCT), a graphical device for communicating risks. The graphic in that post, which compared mortality rates of smokers and non-smokers taken from the pioneering British doctors smoking study, highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of RCTs. The charts certainly […]

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Natural frequencies

22 October 2010

In my last post, I made a passing reference to Gerd Gigerenzer’s idea of using “natural frequencies” instead of probabilities to make assessing risks a little easier. My brief description of the idea did not really do justice to it, so here I will briefly outline an example from Gigerenzer’s book Reckoning With Risk. The […]

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Visualizing smoking risk

21 October 2010

To help perception of risk, Rifkin and Bouwer came up with “Risk Characterization Theatres” (RCTs). This post explores the application of RCTs to visualizing the mortality risks from smoking.

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Getting caught in the traffic

18 October 2010

Guest author @pfh007 returns today to the Stubborn Mule. Staying on the theme of Sydney transport, but moving from train lines to motorways, he once again pulls out his beer coaster calculator (perhaps one day I’ll get him onto R). QUICK SUMMARY: The proposal to widen the M2 motorway in Sydney recently received government in […]

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Bubbles to Brains

12 October 2010

A couple of weeks ago I ranted about a bubble chart which attempted to illustrate trends in CDO issuance by large investment banks. If circles are a bad choice for depicting data, pictures of brains are even worse, but brains are what the BBC News designers settled on when it came to looking at the […]

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Forget the wisdom of crowds!

5 October 2010

Congratulations to all you insightful Stubborn Mule readers! Despite the fact that pricing in the financial markets was indicating around a 60% probability of the Reserve Bank hiking the official interest rates, participants in a poll here on the blog put the chances of no move at 60%. Even the fact that Sportsbet punters* were […]

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Playing with trains – a North-West rail link

4 October 2010

Sydney-siders are losing patience with broken government promises to improve rail infrastructure, but if we had a blank sheet of paper, what would a North-West rail link look like? In this guest post, @pfh007 returns to his beer coaster calculations to examine the prospects for improving Sydney’s rail infrastructure.

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Will the Reserve Bank hike rates next week?

1 October 2010

Over the last few months, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board meetings have not provided any real surprises, but coming up next week is the most interesting meeting in a while. The cash rate is currently 4.5%, but there have been enough noises from the bank’s governor and other RBA board members about the […]

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