Google+ Consumer Psyche: Doctors vs Economists


Monday, August 25, 2008

Doctors vs Economists

The upper hand Doctors enjoy over Economists.


For all its excellence, the medical profession still leaves a lot to be desired. Medical errors kill tens of thousands a year; doctors still have little idea how to treat many complaints such as gout, the common cold, backache or many degenerative diseases; and their treatment of the mentally ill is still often atrocious.

And yet, for all this, doctors get much less obloquy than we economists get for our frequent failures to forecast recession - even though our errors are less costly than doctors'. Why is this? Here are some possibilities:

1. Survivorship bias: A man who's been cured by a doctor lives to tell everyone. A man who's been killed by one stays quiet. Economists' "victims" - those stupid enough to believe forecasts - don't keep schtum.

2. Publication bias: New medical research is often presented as an exciting breakthrough. Economic research rarely lends itself to such glowing headlines.

3. The fight against nature: If doctors are unable to cure disease, this is seen not as a failure of their intellect, but rather as testament to the force of hostility of nature, against which they are heroically battling.

I too believe it is the doctors and surgeons of the world who enjoy far more luxuries, and shirk responsibilities much more than Economists. Medical failure kills much more human lives than the billions of dollars lost in the forthcoming recession.

Another aspect pointed out by Chris is that economists have always been 'genuinely brilliant' and given world-class inferences on economic theories, whereas the contemporaries( I mean doctors during the time) of Adam Smith, and John Keynes not half as enterprising.

Chris Dillow's blog

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