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Noreena Hertz: The Complexity of Decision-Making

GuestBlogger29 January 2014

Noreena Hertz

Noreena Hertz

pencil-iconWritten by Nicholas Tyndale, Communications Director, Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

In her inaugural lecture, The Complexity of Decision-Making, UCL Honorary Professor Noreena Hertz discussed how to improve decision-making, manage information excess, assess the credibility of information and make the best use of advice.

Professor Hertz shared six insights from her latest book, Eyes Wide Open: How to make smart decisions in a confusing world, which draws on academic research and extensive interviews with “the smartest decision-makers”:

1. We need to take experts off their pedestals. We cede our decision-making power to experts too easily and uncritically, yet experts get a lot of decisions, judgements and predictions wrong. We need to understand our own cognitive biases (as should experts understand their own).

2. We need to become better information gatherers. There is valuable lay expertise and local knowledge that is too often untapped. Employees tend to make better predictions about their organisation than those in  management. Sources such as Google Trends and crowd-sourcing can provide a “truer narrative” – for example, about housing markets or pandemics – than official sources. Yet we should treat new sources of information with discretion.

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Has multiculturalism failed?

newseditor17 December 2012

Written by Daniel Bowman, UCL Union Debating Society committee member.

In an increasingly globalised world, how do we balance national and multiple identities? It is one of the most fundamental questions for the 21st century society.

Bonnie Greer

Bonnie Greer

The national debate on multiculturalism reached unprecedented levels of intensity when, in 2011, David Cameron announced in a speech that the “state multiculturalism” had failed, and that Britain needed a stronger national identity. The UCLU Debating Society was honoured to host an exceptional panel on 10 December to debate whether it has, indeed, failed.

Arguing that multiculturalism has failed were Nazir Azfal OBE, the Chief Prosecutor of the North West for the Crown Prosecution Service; Ayub Hanif, a UCL doctoral student and former president of the Debating Society; and Kenan Malik, the writer, lecturer and broadcaster.

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Finding out more about breast cancer treatment

newseditor30 October 2012

By guest blogger Danielle Vincent, Communications Officer at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Las tnight members of the public were given the opportunity to learn more about the latest breast cancer research and treatments being pioneered by UCL and the Royal Free Hospital.

About 120 people attended a breast cancer public engagement event at the Royal Free to mark breast cancer awareness month.

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Where are they? Are we alone? And when will we know?

Rupert PCole7 September 2012

“Dan?  Dan?  Dan? Dan? DAN? DAN? DAN? …” – Alan Partridge

The search for extra-terrestrial life isn’t exactly a success story. But our incessant desire to find some drives us to look. Wednesday night, a bunch of us crammed into Aberdeen’s Waterstones to hear UCL’s space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock speak on the current chances of there being life “out there.”

Maggie’s main job in science has been in engineering satellites and telescopes – a talent she cultivated very early in her life. When she was 14 she built her own telescope, which was 150mm in diameter.

Besides The Clangers, she told us, this was her first real contact with space. Her enthusiasm and curiosity is inspiring. Recently awarded an MBE for her work in science communication, one of her outreach schemes takes school children on “Tours of the Universe”.

Luckily for us, then, our guide in our search for alien life had seen the universe, knew the sights, and even the lingo.

I see myself as a translator, removing the jargon and highlighting the wonder– she remarked in 2006, regarding her role as a recipient of the Science and Society Fellowship she holds at UCL.

Looking for life in the universe is, I imagine, a pretty arduous task. Since it’s a fairly big area to cover (billions of light-years), and getting bigger all the time, we might reasonably pose the question: where to start? (more…)