Fwd: LinkedIn article

Jain, Bimal P.,M.D. BJAIN at PARTNERS.ORG
Tue May 23 12:41:37 UTC 2017


Thanks for posting this interesting article on cognitive biases in Plato's dialogues. It is of interest these biases were well known to Sir Francis Bacon, one of the founders of modern science, who called them Idols of the Mind. His description of what we would now call confirmation bias, which I give below, is strikingly modern.
The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ( either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself ) draws all things else to support and to agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate. And therefore it was a good answer that was made by one who, when they showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows as having escaped shipwreck, and would have him say whether he did not now acknowledge the power of the gods-" Aye " asked he again, " but where are they painted that were drowned after their vows ?" And such is the way of all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgments, or the like; wherein men, having a delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, though this happen much oftener, neglect and pass them by. But with far more subtlety does this mischief insinuate itself into philosophy and the sciences; in which the first conclusion colors and brings into conformity with itself all that come after,, though far sounder and better. Besides, independently of that delight and vanity which I have described, it is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human intellect to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives; whereas it ought properly to hold itself indifferently disposed toward both alike. Indeed, in the establishment of any true axiom, the negative instance is the more forcible of the two.
Aphorism XLVI from his book Novum Organum.
It seems to me these cognitive biases have always been present  and yet great advances have been made in the last few centuries in gaining new knowledge in all fields including medicine despite them. This progress has been made, I believe, by not abolishing these biases, but by blocking them by the scientific method in which observation of an experimental result is the only judge of a hypothesis being correct. This eliminates all subjective factors such as opinions and cognitive biases from evaluation  of a hypothesis.
I am in the process of figuring out how the scientific method and cognitive biases interact in diagnosis  and may put together my thoughts on this matter  in a paper in the near future.

Bimal  Jain MD
North Shore Medical Center
Lynn MA 01904

From: Burke Harry [mailto:harry.burke at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2017 8:17 AM
To: IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] Fwd: LinkedIn article

This interesting article connects Plato with diagnostic errors. Plato was very interested in rhetoric, of convincing people of his Truth. The article discusses various rhetorical devices and logical fallacies that, because human thought has not radically changed in 2,500 years, exist today.

In relation to Plato, some people believe in the Platonic view of diagnosis, namely, that there is always a True diagnosis and our job is to find it. This is a version of Platonic essences. The Sophists would have had a different view of diagnosis.

On May 21, 2017, at 10:40 PM, David Meyers <dm0015 at ICLOUD.COM<mailto:dm0015 at ICLOUD.COM>> wrote:

Thanks to Dr Anders von Heinje who recently posted this link on the Diagnostic Errors forum on LinkedIn.

https://aeon.co/essays/what-plato-knew-about-behavioural-economics-a-lot
Sent from my iPhone

David L Meyers, MD
SIDM Board Member
Listserv Moderator

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