The Confidence Trap:
Dysfunctional Dialogues about Climate

Roger M. Cooke
Resources for the Future, Washington, DC
Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands

Grande conférence du CRM
18 octobre 2017
19h30 / 7:30

Lieu/Venue: Pavillon André-Aisenstadt, salle 1140

Dans La Presse



Mutilation of facts, scriptural snake oil, gerrymandering the proof burden, bloated overconfidence and outright lies – these are among the miasmas fouling the public debate about climate change. The surprise is not that people try these stratagems, but that they are successful. A snarly cognitive illusion is preventing us from dealing rationally with climate uncertainties (a cognitive illusion is like an optical illusion involving the brain instead of the eyes). After a "syllabus of errors", this talk will focus on better ways to capture and incorporate expert's judgments on climate change. Developed in quantitative risk analysis, structured expert judgment has been used in a wide range of applications from nuclear safety, public health, investment banking to policy analysis and natural hazards. It is now poised to enter the climate debate in earnest. Can it help? It's time to find out.


Roger M. Cooke got a Ph.D. in mathematics and philosophy from Yale University in 1974.  He started his career as professor of applied decision theory at the Department of Mathematics at Delft University in the Netherlands where he spent more than 25 years. He joined Resources for the Future in Washington in September 2005 as the first appointee to the Chauncey Starr Chair in Risk Analysis. His work focuses on the implementation of uncertainty analysis in policy-related decision-making.  Roger Cooke served as consultant for many governments around the world. He was a lead author of chapter addressing risk and uncertainty of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013.