Summary

The committee reviewed the draft Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP) 5.2, focusing on the extent to which the draft document meets the requirements set forth in the prospectus. The current draft was clearly written for an audience of researchers involved in assessment efforts, and it contains material that should be very useful to them: a discussion of cognitive factors in understanding uncertainty; presentation of the methods for expert elicitation under conditions of "deep uncertainty," and useful advice for characterizing and presenting uncertainty in assessments. However, even for this audience the report should contain additional material: a fuller discussion of the range of scientific methods, including frequentist and objective Bayesian approaches for characterizing uncertainty; assessments of research relating to social contextual and emotive factors that, along with cognitive factors, affect the uncertainty judgments of experts and non-experts alike; and introductory and summary material.


There are larger issues in that the draft SAP falls short of the requirements set forth in the prospectus. The draft does not address all of the specified audiences, particularly "policymakers, decision-makers, and members of the media and general public with an interest in developing a fundamental understanding of the issue." In addition, the current draft does not constitute an assessment of the full range of "best practice approaches" for characterizing, incorporating, and communicating uncertainty. It will take a substantial revision of the current document or the production of a companion document, both of which would require the involvement of additional authors, to address these larger issues and additional audiences.



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Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2, “Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making” Summary The committee reviewed the draft Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP) 5.2, focusing on the extent to which the draft document meets the requirements set forth in the prospectus. The current draft was clearly written for an audience of researchers involved in assessment efforts, and it contains material that should be very useful to them: a discussion of cognitive factors in understanding uncertainty; presentation of the methods for expert elicitation under conditions of "deep uncertainty," and useful advice for characterizing and presenting uncertainty in assessments. However, even for this audience the report should contain additional material: a fuller discussion of the range of scientific methods, including frequentist and objective Bayesian approaches for characterizing uncertainty; assessments of research relating to social contextual and emotive factors that, along with cognitive factors, affect the uncertainty judgments of experts and non-experts alike; and introductory and summary material. There are larger issues in that the draft SAP falls short of the requirements set forth in the prospectus. The draft does not address all of the specified audiences, particularly "policymakers, decision-makers, and members of the media and general public with an interest in developing a fundamental understanding of the issue." In addition, the current draft does not constitute an assessment of the full range of "best practice approaches" for characterizing, incorporating, and communicating uncertainty. It will take a substantial revision of the current document or the production of a companion document, both of which would require the involvement of additional authors, to address these larger issues and additional audiences.

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Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2, “Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making” This page intentionally left blank.