Probabilistic thinking and probability literacy in the context of risk
Pensamento probabilístico e alfabetização em probabilidade no contexto do risco

Manfred Borovcnik



The aim of this paper is to develop and synthesise ideas about probabilistic thinking and highlight the considerations by illustrating how the concept of probability is entrenched with the concept of risk. We use a hermeneutic way of argument, relate the ideas to the mathematical and philosophical background of probability, and illustrate our ideas by examples that relate probability considerations to risk. Special features of competing intuitions and strategies link probabilistic thinking to its roots in psychology, to the paradigm of causality, to its empirical expressions, and to thinking and decisions. Higher-ordered probabilistic thinking is described by the categories of the theoretical character of probability, conditional probability, and by the construct of probabilistic evidence. The robustness of probabilistic misconceptions is explained by an archetypical way of thinking. The peculiar logic of decisions adds to probabilistic thinking. Finally, the purpose of probability is declared as central issue for teaching and understanding probability. Throughout, the connection of probability to risk enhances probabilistic concepts and reveals a twin-character of probability and risk.


O objetivo deste artigo é desenvolver e sintetizar ideias sobre o pensamento probabilístico e destacar as considerações apresentadas ilustrando como o conceito de probabilidade está enraizado no conceito de risco. Utilizamos argumentação hermenêutica, articulando as ideas com o quadro teórico matemático e filosófico da probabilidade, e ilustramos nossas ideas por meio de exemplos que relacionam probabilidade e risco. Características especiais de intuições e estratégias concorrentes ligam o pensamento probabilístico às suas raízes na psicologia, ao paradigma da causalidade, às suas expressões empíricas, ao pensamento e às decisões. O pensamento probabilístico de ordem superior é descrito pelas categorias de caráter teórico da probabilidade, probabilidade condicional e pela construção da evidência probabilística. A robustez dos equívocos probabilísticos é explicada por um modo de pensar arquetípico. A lógica peculiar das decisões é adicionada ao pensamento probabilístico. Finalmente, o propósito da probabilidade é declarado como questão central para o seu ensino e compreensão. Assim, a conexão da probabilidade ao risco realça conceitos probabilisticos e revela um caráter dialético da probabilidade e do risco.


Probabilistic thinking, Probability literacy, Risk literacy, Mathematical thinking, Theoretical character of probability, Probabilistic evidence, Conditional probability, Archetypical strategies, Logic of decisions, Insurance contract

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Direitos autorais 2017 Educação Matemática Pesquisa. Revista do Programa de Estudos Pós-Graduados em Educação Matemática. ISSN 1983-3156