May 03, 2006

Counterintuitive, but True

Heard a podcast of Malcolm Gladwell (mp3 file) speaking at Hamline University School of Law last November. I suspect he was recounting many stories from Blink, and he is quite a storyteller.

His thesis is that quick decisions based on few bits of data are more accurate than decisions based which take a long time to reach and are based on multiple data sources. This sounds very intriguing. He points to some research (not footnoted in the podcast) where Emergency Department doctors are more accurate at diagnosing heart attacks with only 4 bits of data (none of which is patient age, prior heart attack history, or recent drug use).

This, he says, is counterintuitive, but true. It's fascinating, and he is a marvelous storyteller.

Being a librarian-to-scientists, I wanted more, um, scientific proof to support what he was saying. Still, since I am in the car for long stretches of time, I do like a good story, and this is one that made me think.

No comments: