Assessing Extraordinary Claims: Actuarial Science & The Search For Truth
Webinar - China

We will explore the dictum “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” from perspectives of both the scientific method and modern social/political discourse.

In assessing such claims, it often is necessary to reconcile and combine information from both objective and subjective sources. In theory, this can be handled elegantly through the formal Bayesian paradigm; but in practice, one usually must resort to more informal methods such as those employed by professional actuaries.

To illustrate hurdles encountered in pursuing the truth behind extraordinary claims, we will consider a curious problem that may well be the most intellectually important, yet unresolved, actuarial question today.


Michael R Powers is the Zurich Insurance Group Chair Professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management. He also holds a dual appointment as professor of economics and business at Tsinghua’s Schwarzman College. From 2012 to 2015, he was the first foreign faculty member to serve as chair of Tsinghua’s finance department.

In 2013, Powers won the Kulp-Wright Book Award for Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance, in which he proposes a new “science of risk”. He is co-editor of three academic books – The Political Economy of Chinese Finance; Global Risk Management: Financial, Operational, and Insurance Strategies; and The Economics and Politics of Choice No-Fault Insurance – and author of the science-fiction novel, Icons.

Professor Powers joined Tsinghua from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, where he was professor of risk management and insurance. Prior to that, he served as deputy insurance commissioner for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was responsible for designing Pennsylvania’s current “choice” no-fault automobile insurance system.

Powers provides regular commentary for CGTN's Global Business program and China Radio International’s World Today and Biz Today programs, and frequently is interviewed by major international media organizations. Over the past 15 years, he has given speeches and seminars at numerous academic and business conferences throughout China.

He received his BS in applied mathematics (summa cum laude) from Yale University, and his PhD in statistics from Harvard University.

Tuesday, 07 September 2021

10:00 - 10:45 BST


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  • Michael Powers.jpg
    Professor Michael R Powers
    Zurich Insurance Group Chair Professor
    Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management
  • michael Mainelli.png
    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Executive Chairman
    Z/Yen Group