Following The Evidence

Jonah Lehrer posits:

[T]he only way we're ever going to reduce medical costs is to restrict procedures that haven't passed evidence-based efficacy tests. Maybe that means 40 year old women don't get mammograms, or that we treat prostrate cancer less aggressively, or that we stop performing spinal fusion surgeries. Although there's solid evidence to question all of these medical options, such changes provoke intense debate. Why? Because our emotions don't understand statistics. Because when we have back pain we want an MRI. Because when it's our father with prostate cancer we want the most aggressive possible treatments. And so on. The point is that there's often an indefatigable gap between the rigors of cost-benefit analyses and the emotional hunches that drive our decisions. We say we want to follow the evidence, but then the evidence rubs against a bias like loss aversion, and so we make an exception. We'll follow the evidence next time.