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Data Malarkey - the podcast about using data smarter

May 21, 2024

In this episode of the Data Malarkey podcast, your host Sam Knowles is joined by Olivia Jensen, Director of the Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk (IPUR) based at the National University of Singapore.


Our conversation was recorded remotely, via the medium of, on 13 March 2024.


Thanks to Joe Hickey for production support.


Podcast artwork by Shatter Media.


Voice over by Samantha Boffin.


IPUR is a research institute that seeks to narrow the gap between people’s perceptions and real-world risks, focused on the data and technology, environment and climate, and health and lifestyle. The Institute brings together basic science, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities.


Olivia Jensen is a passionate advocate and deeply pragmatic practitioner in the art and science of closing the gaps that exist between expert knowledge about risk and public perception of risk. IPUR and the global risk community of which it forms an integral part aims to empower citizens and societies to make better decisions about risk.


Olivia believes that risk-evidence communication is as much about getting experts to understand how and why citizens make decisions as it is about experts explaining the evidence to those citizens.


In considering risk evidence communication under uncertainty, we inevitably talk about Government communication under COVID. Olivia believes that the Government in Singapore got things “just about right”, clearly communicating regularly-updated data and basing its policy decisions on evidence. Sam is rather less complementary about the British Government’s over-politicised use of data in its pandemic communication.


One of the real challenges of risk evidence communication is looking back on events, with narratives constructed that fall victim to hindsight bias. Just because something was possible and it happened doesn’t mean it was inevitable.


Outside of the world of risk, Olivia is a passionate dancer, and in 2024 is learning to tango.



IPUR home page 

Olivia’s IPUR profile

IPUR’s EdX course “Understanding and Communicating Risk”

Understanding Risk

Risk Know How – a joint venture with Sense About Science



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