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This week I read in the newspaper that some rootworms are evolving to resist genetically modified corn developed to kill them.
The crop itself is not to blame, say scientists, but rather mismanagement by farmers, corporations and lawmakers.
…but the scientists’ own recommendations — an advisory panel convened in 2002 by the EPA suggested that a full 50 percent of each corn farmer’s fields be devoted to these non-Bt refuges — were resisted by seed companies and eventually the EPA itself, which set voluntary refuge guidelines at between 5 and 20 percent. Many farmers didn’t even follow those recommendations…
Wired.com march 17th
Isn’t this another example of a situation where an intuitive, “gut-based” risk assessment was conducted to facilitate a decision making process, results were simply guessed and shifted towards rosy scenarios, if necessary chopping off some significative, or may be critical, branches of event trees?
In a previous blog post I wrote about event trees for civil aviation and how we need to constantly remind ourselves of cognitive biases.
Cognitive biases lead us to narrow and select a few scenarios beforehand, then base all our hypotheses on this already skewed reality.
The Congruence bias, which is the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, in contrast to tests of possible alternative hypotheses, is the archetype of this human behaviour.
In our day-to-day fight against cognitive biases we keep thinking about the unthinkable, then we let rational methodologies like Optimum Risk Estimates (ORE) guide us to define transparent, unbiased and uncensored risk portfolios prioritizations.