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A Report to ACERA

On November 25, 2011, I submitted a 200-page report, entitled Info-gap decision theory: a perspective from the Land of the Black Swan, to the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (ACERA). On this page I provide a link to this report and I discuss the report's role in my Campaign to contain the spread of info-gap decision theory in Australia.

To appreciate the point and purpose of this report, it is important to keep in mind that ACERA has played a key role in the promotion and use of info-gap decision theory in Australia. Indeed, ACERA has been a major user/proponent of info-gap decision theory, and this, in spite of my harsh criticism of the theory.

So, as the envisaged completion date of my Campaign draws near (January 1, 2012), and in view of my plans to publish a book about my info-gap experience, I decided to submit ACERA a report that summarizes my position on the theory, juxtaposed against references to ACERA's engagement with this theory. I was hoping to produce this report in cooperation with ACERA, but this did not work out.

At the end of August 2011, I sent an advanced draft of the report to members of ACERA's Scientific Advisory Committee for comments. Since I have not received any comments on this draft, the document's final version, posted here, is very similar to this advanced draft.

I should stress that my report is thoroughly technical. Its objective is to highlight the technical aspects of decision-making under severe uncertainty, and to thereby make it clear that info-gap decision theory is utterly unsuitable for this task. Thus, the report explains why info-gap decision theory does not/cannot possibly have the capabilities attributed to it --- by its founder and followers --- for dealing with a severe uncertainty characterized by:

The report does not go into the question of:

How is it that a manifestly fundamentally flawed decision theory, such as info-gap decision theory, managed to gain such a foothold in Australia, so as to be championed by senior risk analysts in this country?

I plan to address this intriguing question in due course. Here I merely point out that this phenomenon is not limited only to Australia. Indeed, a quick search of the info-gap literature reveals that this theory has attracted followers, including senior academics, in other countries as well, e.g. Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA.

For this reason, this report should be of interest to info-gap users worldwide.

The Australian case is unique, though, in that serious questions regarding the theory and its role and place in decision theory were raised here, in Melbourne, Australia, right from its introduction here in 2003. These were made public at the end of 2006 with the launch of my Campaign. And yet ...

This fact should be kept in mind by readers of this report.

Errata Record

I would greatly appreciate comments/suggestions on any aspect of the report. I plan to maintain here an Errata Record, and depending on the feedback I shall get, I may even revise the report.

Currently the record is still empty, so you have a golden opportunity to be the contributor of the first entry! Sorry! It is too late.

DateErratumCorrection Thank-you to
2011-11-25  Missing bibliographic details of Lo and Mueller (2010) Lo, A.W., and Mueller, M.T. (2010) WARNING: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth! ( Ron Sadler
2011-11-30  Page 21: Wrong page number in Milne and Reynolds (1962, p. 62) Milne and Reynolds (1962, p. 67). Moshe

What's next?

As I indicated above, my Campaign is due to end on January 1, 2012.

I hope that by then followers of info-gap decision theory in Australia will reach the obviously unavoidable conclusions about this theory. Otherwise, I shall extend the project by another year (there are signs that this will be the case; see Review 33).

Given the central role that ACERA has played in the use and promotion of info-gap decision theory in Australia, I hope that it will see fit to post a link to this report on its website, so as to direct its clients and scientists to the report.

For my part, I would be more than willing to discuss this report with ACERA scientists/clients. In fact, I shall be delighted to organize lectures/workshops on the topics discussed in the report.

Second Call for the Reassessment of Info-Gap Decision Theory

I take this opportunity to remind info-gap scholars in Australia of my 2008 Call for The Reassessment of The Use and Promotion of Info-Gap Decision Theory in Australia. See also my short article on this matter in Decision Point (Issue 24, 2008).

As I have been arguing in the past eight years (2003-2011): it is important to identify and elucidate the fundamental flaws afflicting this theory precisely because of its success in Australia. Specifically, it is important to be clear on why these flaws render it utterly unsuitable for the treatment of a severe uncertainty of the type that it claims to take on. It is equally important to understand how such a flawed theory managed to attract such a number of followers, and why it managed to pass muster in the review process of so many journals, especially in applied ecology and conservation biology.


A Second Call for The Reassessment of The Use and Promotion of Info-Gap Decision Theory in Australia

is now in order!

Stay tuned.

Disclaimer: This page, its contents and style, are the responsibility of the author (Moshe Sniedovich) and do not represent the views, policies or opinions of the organizations he is associated/affiliated with.

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