Ethical Considerations in Risk Communication Practice and Research†

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Risk communication is a growth industry. The increasing size of Risk Analysis is just one reflection of a more general flood of publications, workshops, research projects, as well as serious efforts to communicate or to tell others how to communicate. The National Research Council has recently issued a summary report on the topic.(’) Amid all this activity, there is a simmering conflict regarding the ethical status of risk communication. Some people hold it to be an unabashedly good thing, an essential activity if lay people are to make informed decisions regarding risks. Others have a darker view. For example, Sheila Jasanoff suggests that “risk communication is often a code [word] for brainwashing by experts or industry”.(2) In this editorial, we offer a framework for analyzing the ethical status of that subset of communications composed of messages from technical experts to the lay public.




Published In

Risk Analysis , 10, 3, 355-358.