Jonathan Haidt & Francis Collins | Technology, Mental Health, & the

It’s informed guessing! If action A yields a 90% success rate and action B only 60%, then an informed person can choose ‘A’, all else being equal. But it’s still only a guess that their choice will give the wanted results. People in love with certainty can’t abide any of that ‘loosey-goosey’ stuff, though. So we get in the car and live in denial that any fatal crash statistics could ever apply to us. That could be a necessary form of denial if, without it, we lock ourselves in the cellar and never go anywhere. Or it can be an unhealthy form of denial if we drive as if we are invulnerable.


There’s the rub. Things are seldom equal. Not to get too far into it, but in medicine and biology it gets complicated. I was looking at prostate cancer treatments, and given the same starting point, one treatment gives a 3 year remission of 99%. a 5 year remission of 60% but with a quality of life issue of only 10% incontinence, and 30% impotence after 2 years, whereas another treatment gives a 3 year remission of 99% but a 5 year improved to 75%, but has a 30% rate of incontinence and a 50% rate of impotence at 2 years out. And a third mode of treatment is similar to the first, but is cheaper and more readily available, but has a 30% rate of rectal problems over the first few months. One learns being an informed person is almost impossible without spending years watching patient outcomes and satisfactions, and even then may vary from patient to patient depending on their personal biases and priorities. Some may be fine with impotence, and to some they would rather risk recurrent cancer than to lose that aspect of their lives.

(Above numbers are for illustrative purposes only, and are just made up, like 79% of all statistics are.


I listened to this. It was not what I expected, but it was good.

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