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The problems of increasing transparency on uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Magda Osman, Amanda J. Heath, Ragnar Löfstedt

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Early online date23 May 2017
E-pub ahead of print23 May 2017
Published1 Feb 2018

King's Authors


Public regulators (such as European Food Safety Authority, European Medicines Agency, and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) are placing increasing demands on scientists to make uncertainties about their evidence transparent to the public. The stated goal is utilitarian, to inform and empower the public and ensure the accountability of policy and decision-making around the use of scientific evidence. However, it is questionable what constitutes uncertainty around the evidence on any given topic, and, while the goal is laudable, we argue the drive to increase transparency on uncertainty of the scientific process specifically does more harm than good, and may not serve the interests of those intended. While highlighting some of the practical implications of making uncertainties transparent using current guidelines, the aim is to discuss what could be done to make it worthwhile for both public and scientists.

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