Bryan Caplan  

Please, Doctor, Treat Me Like a Statistic!

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I second Arnold's recommendation of Charles Lambdin's dissection of medical diagonosis. Here is wisdom:

Where one sides in the debate is largely determined by what one makes of a single phrase: “Group statistics don’t apply to individuals.” This claim, widely believed, ignores many of the most basic concepts of probability and statistics...

Groopman, quite bizarrely, then stresses the uncertainty inherent in every diagnosis while maintaining that “statistics don’t apply to individuals.” Uncertainty is exactly why statistics apply to individuals: they give us the best guess available given the level of uncertainty at hand. (original emphasis)

Lambdin might object, but I see his argument as a nice illustration of stereotype accuracy.


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