1st Edition

Decoding Black Swans and Other Historic Risk Events Themes of Progress and Opportunity for Risk Science

By Shital Thekdi, Terje Aven Copyright 2025
    152 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    152 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The field of risk science is continuously evolving to develop principles and practices that enable individuals, organizations, and societies to understand and manage future risk. These risk events are reminders that risk and uncertainty are prevalent, yet it is important to consider what is on the horizon, anticipate the possibility of future events, its consequences, our vulnerability to those events, and how to recover from them.

    Decoding Black Swans and Other Historic Risk Events is a guide towards understanding risk events and how to act before they occur. By exploring some historic risk events, this book analyzes how risk science principles apply in such instances and studies whether current risk science concepts and approaches could potentially have avoided, reduced the impact, or supported recovery following the risk event. It offers new insights by applying recent research progress in understanding and managing risk, considering aspects including quality of evidence, information, and misinformation in risk studies. The results are used to identify how risk science approaches contribute to the overall management of risk and societal safety, and where improvements can be obtained, allowing the reader to possess a toolkit for identifying and planning for unsafe events.

    This title will benefit professionals in the fields of occupational health and safety, risk management, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, energy, marine engineering, environmental engineering, business and management, and healthcare.


    About the Authors        


    Chapter 1: Framework used to decode the risk events

    Chapter 2: Historical events to be decoded     

    Global pandemics        

    Industrial accidents    

    Infrastructure failures 

    Natural disasters          

    Acts of terrorism and war         

    Food safety      

    Chapter 3: Historical perspective on risk          

    Chapter 4: Historical precedent for remembering and understanding risk issues        

    Chapter 5: Characterization of surprise and unpredictability  

    Chapter 6: Severity of consequences in relation to uncertainties and knowledge       

    Titanic case – Evaluation of consequences     

    Chapter 7: Uncertainty characterizations        

    Fukushima Daiichi case – Evaluation of Probabilistic Risk Assessment at nuclear plants          

    Chapter 8: Types of knowledge that inform understanding of risk        

    9/11 case – Classification of knowledge           

    Chapter 9: Credibility of knowledge     

    Food additives case – Credibility of knowledge             

    Chapter 10: Factors influencing understanding and communication of risk, uncertainties, and probabilities   

    Cuyahoga River Fire – Communication of risk-related information       

    Chapter 11: Biases, misinformation, and disinformation

    Biases and moral hazards – East Palestine Train Derailment and similar freight accidents

    COVID-19 Misinformation and disinformation 

    Chapter 12: Balancing various dimensions of a risk application

    BP Oil Spill – Dimensions of risk for oil and gas operations and related regulation

    Chapter 13: The weight given to resilience

    Hurricane Katrina – Why New Orleans was vulnerable and how resilience emerged

    Chapter 14: The big picture of risk science surrounding major historical events

    Smoking, social media, and processed foods – linking three global risk issues

    Chapter 15: How risk science improves the ability to address the gaps in the themes presented

    Chapter 16: Who is the risk analyst and what are the expectations

    Chapter 17: Unresolved issues in risk science identified in the presented themes

    Abraham Lincoln assassination – Hindsight bias vs. noise leading to a risk event

    Chapter 18: Conclusions

    Further reading and references





    Shital Thekdi is a Professor of Analytics and Operations at the University of Richmond. She has co-authored many papers on risk management and decision-making. She has a Ph.D. in Systems and Information Engineering from the University of Virginia and a M.S.E. and B.S.E. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has several years of experience working in industry, with extensive supply chain management and operational analytics experience.

    Terje Aven has been a Professor in Risk Science at the University of Stavanger, Norway since 1992. Previously he was also Professor (adjunct) in Risk Analysis at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has many years of experience as a risk analyst in industry and as a consultant. He is the author of many books and papers in the field, covering both fundamental issues as well as practical risk analysis methods. He has led several large research programmes in the risk area, with strong international participation. He has developed many master programmes in the field and has lectured on many courses in risk analysis and risk management. Aven is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Risk and Reliability, and Area Editor of Risk analysis in Policy. He has served as President of the international Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) and Chairman of the European Safety and Reliability Association (ESRA) (2014-2018).