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Arnoff Lecture by Keeney, Having Children, and Decision Analysis

Last year around this time, I was giving the 17th Arnoff Lecture at the University of Cincinnati, which was a great thrill. This year, the Arnoff Lecturer was Ralph Keeney who spoke on “Making Informed Business, Health, and Personal Decisions”. Keeney was the author of an OR Forum Paper on how personal decisions are a leading cause of death. The organizers have put a video of the lecture online.

The Lecture contained a review of Ralph’s work on personal health decisions and his earlier work on placing a nuclear waste site. The third topic was my favorite: when should a woman decide to start a family? Being an older parent (I am 49, with Alexander being 5 in a couple of weeks) it is interesting to see how such a decision analysis might be done. Near as I can recall, this was a non-issue until I was 44 when Ilona told me I was about to be a father (at which point I watched “Finding Nemo” to see a possibly fatherly role I might have to take on). Ilona might have a different view of the decision process, though I do not believe it involved explicit utility curves.