Wrong Diagnosis

Wrong Diagnosis

Discover how creating systems help minimize common mistakes in the workplace.

Oregon Research Institute completed a study of doctors asking a group of radiologists at the University of Oregon: How do you decide if a person has cancer from a stomach X-ray? The doctors explained there were seven major signs. The Oregon Researchers then asked the doctors to judge the probability of cancer in ninety-six different individual stomach ulcers.

Without telling the doctors what the researchers were up to, they showed the doctors each ulcer twice, mixing up the duplicates randomly in the pile so the doctors wouldn’t notice they were being asked to diagnose the exact same ulcer they had already diagnosed.

Surprisingly, the doctors’ diagnoses were all over the map: The experts didn’t agree with each other. Even more surprisingly, when presented with duplicates of the same ulcer, every doctor had contradicted himself and rendered more than one diagnosis: These doctors apparently could not even agree with themselves.

You could beat the doctor by replacing him with an equation created by people who knew nothing about medicine and had simply asked a few questions of doctors.

In fact, I was able to identify a wrong diagnosis myself, perhaps you had a similar experience. The only difference may lie in how we arrived at knowing the diagnosis was wrong. Having a gut feeling is one thing, but knowing with certainty is something else. There is no evidence to support a gut instinct. Read my story about how I systematically analyzed information to identify the correct diagnosis.

The above is a slightly edited excerpt from: Michael Lewis. “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds.” Long story short, the system ensures the result.

Let’s take a look at another real-life example.

Which is more important, the system or individual? Watch the 40 second video.

In this case, algorithms ensured the result because humans often make mistakes or become easily distracted. In only 8 seconds the video demonstrates how an algorithm can prevent common mistakes in human judgement. Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 System warns of a wreck before it occurred and immediately alerted the driver while stopping the vehicle.

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