Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

Believing (Your Own) Hype

One of the side effects of this our GE Adventure is that I’ve become fascinated by healthcare (I’m actually quite proud of some of my writing on the topic over at the site). Anyway, during a conversation recently someone at GE recommended I read How Doctors Think, which I ordered and started last week.

It’s an excellent account of the cognitive mistakes doctors make (I’m about 3/4 of the way through). One of the more interesting points thus far to me is about how doctor’s begin to believe their own hype. In discussing the kinds of mistakes he had made in his career, Dr. James Lock said, “I learned that I need to be more circumspect about making these predictions. I have to be more clear to myself that even though the reasoning seems extremely tight, I am still making it up. And you absolutely have to recognize that what you think you know can have limitations.” [Emphasis mine.]

I’ve always felt like everyone was making it up as they went along. No matter how buttoned up any person or company seems, they can’t possibly know everything. One of the big themes in the book is the difference between the people that recognize that limitation and work with it and those that begin to take their own approach as gospel. That latter is a very dangerous thing.

June 8, 2009