Aim your baloney detector at the BS in health care – STAT


BS, what Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt once calleda “lack of connection to a concern with truth — this indifference to how things really are,” has probably been around since the beginning of language.

Health care has an acute BS problem, in part because BS can sometimes fill the bill.

“Suppose you are asked to address an ageless problem in health care: reduce costs while simultaneously raising quality. If you were knowledgeable to begin with or did some research, you would know there is no easy solution. You could respond with a message of failure or a discussion of inevitable trade-offs.

But you could also pick an idea with some internal plausibility and political appeal, surround it with careful but conditional language, and launch a program. It will, you note, take several years before it is successful, but you and your colleagues will argue for the idea in concept, with the details to be worked out later.

At a minimum, unqualified acceptance of such ideas, even (and especially) by apparently qualified people, will waste resources that could have been used to make the best of what we currently have, and will lead to enormous frustration for the audience of politicians and outraged critics of the current system who want answers and want them now.

The incentives to generate BS are not likely to diminish — if anything, rising spending and stagnant health outcomes strengthen them…

…educator, media theorist, and cultural critic Neil Postman said that “helping kids to activate their crap-detectors should take precedence over any other legitimate educational aim …
We have carried Postman’s banner into academia with two reports, one in 2018and another this year, that identify 21 different forms of BS in health care. Here are our top 10:”

https://www.statnews.com/2019/05/03/bs-health-care-baloney-detector/