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Posted on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

University of Michigan professor tackles 10 ways water can kill you and more in quirky video tutorials

By Kellie Woodhouse

Just how risky is that?

A University of Michigan professor is tackling that question for a variety of odd subjects.

Equipped with nothing but a white board, a dry erase marker and a good deal of risk management knowledge, public policy professor and director of U-M's Risk Science Center Andrew Maynard is sharing one- to three-minute 'risk bites' on Youtube.

"Every moment of our lives is affected by potential risks and possible benefits," Maynard says in a video. "From the food we eat to the company we work for and the country we live in, smart decisions on understanding and managing health risks can often mean the difference between health and wealth and, well, whatever you're left with when you take those away."

The videos are a clipped version of what quickly is becoming a growing trend: colleges offering free lessons using online video. Unlike Coursera and edX, knowledge-seekers don't need to sift through a course load of work or commit more than a few minutes to watch one of Maynard's videos. They're tailored to those with short attention spans and a tendency toward unusual exploits.

The mini-lessons touch on the odd —Will wearing nothing but a hat keep you warm? If one in seven cell phones are contaminated with fecal matter, why aren't there more E. Coli cases? Could eating chocolate get you a Nobel Prize?— to the practical, including a video defining the difference between hazards and risks.

"It's a bite-sized crash course in the science of risk," Maynard said in a video. "We'll be covering everything from micromorts to high-throughput screening in videos that will typically be shorter than the time it takes to make a cup of coffee."

The videos teach people information in a way that is easy to consume: short, entertaining visual and mental stimulation. According to Maynard: "If we are going to communicate effectively, we need to be where people are, not where we think people should be."

Maynard has uploaded 17 videos since July 2012. Visit his Youtube channel here.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Bill Wilson

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

Risk "bites"? Well... something bites, but it ain't risk. What's the Steely Dan line? Oh yeah... "The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand"


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

Love the video. Voice sounds very familiar to me. So, no name on the professor?


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

Voice sounds Brit. I have a few Brit friends and just wondered. Thank you.

Andrew Maynard

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

The voice belongs to me (Andrew Maynard) - as does the hand!


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

If you are asking who did it, according to the article: ...'public policy professor and director of U-M's Risk Science Center Andrew Maynard'... If you are wondering whose voice it is, I would assume his as the article states ...'Maynard says in a video.'... If you are asking if the professor has a 'name', meaning perhaps a hip moniker for his on-line presence, I have no idea.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

In my years as a risk manager, the oddest case was a big, round dent in a company owned car - in this case a DeLorian - with the doers admitting they had done it but refusing to say how. They put up the money for the repair so it never went to our insurance carrier, but even when I was leaving the company, they wouldn't tell me how it happened.

Tom Teague

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Thanks for posting this article. In two or three short videos, Dr Maynard gets to the the essence of risk management far more quickly than the looong Qualitative Risk Assessment training I've taken in the past. The topic of risky water does put a different perspective on Risk Pools and Liquidated Damages.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Aah yes, the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.