Sunday, July 07, 2013

Why Statistics are Stupid

First, let me clarify. I actually kinda love numbers and find them quite beautiful. And I think research is fascinating and the whole scientific process is just neet-o. 

BUT, when it comes to the medical world, talking to a patient about statistics and probability is kind of stupid. There is a 30% likelihood of this outcome, a 2% probability of this, and 73% chance of that. From a patient's perspective, it is a simple binary; either it works or it doesn't. The person who loses a child when there was only a 3% chance of that happening doesn't feel any better. When there is a 99% chance of a positive outcome, it still sucks really bad for the people in that 1%.

For anyone who has lost a loved one in a bizarre accident, I'm sure that they don't feel any better knowing that massive tornados, school shootings, and plane crashes are actually quite rare. It happened to them, and it sucked.

Sorry for the rant. I'm feeling strangely optimistic about starting treatment tomorrow. I probably shouldn't get my hopes up, but I am looking forward to tackling this thing. 

Thanks for all the support, literally from all over the globe. Amazing. 

1 comment:

Mike Fedel said...

I like this post a lot. I've thought about the same thing but in terms of "odds" and "stakes" and our crash. The odds of getting hit by a car are very very small but the stakes are very very high. I love your use of the term "binary" in here. Yep. 100%. It is or it isn't.