Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annoyed with self – this is obvious and important and I missed it…

Why is the “PC” thing so bad? Why should it be killed at birth? Outside a general discomfort I could not get to the logic of why it seemed to me such a problem – and irked me so.  He / she is a “modern liberal fool” is not enough.

The answer is now clear (finally to me):

1. The number of false positives is too high. (Screen all males for some deadly disease and find 1 in a thousand have it – more importantly 999 don’t)……. screen a million people getting on a plane lest they be terrorists  and find 1 in 1.0 m is and .99999m are not.

2. Every false positive imposes a cost equal to the cost of preventing one (true) positive on all the true and the false. The one jump in (maybe) 1,000 that breaks a kids arm on a trampoline is a 0.001 chance. The other jumps have a 0.999 chance of causing no harm. But all true and false bear the cost of preventing the  0.001 chance.

3. Apply to a remark saying “Humpty Dumpty should have been able to be put back together and kids will be psychopaths if taught otherwise”. False positives…. high, very high. Maybe at least as high as the trampoline case. Impose cost of all those false positives to catch the 0.001 true and 0.999 bear the cost……..

3. The more “PCness”, the more false positives, the more cost.

4. Original problem costs outweighed by TOTAL false positive costs – PLUS cost of inability to see problem.

5. The net is …… needless, and by definition, rising net cost.

Now apply that to – universal health screening to “you name it”… and you have….. most of the fiscal states of dead Western style health systems, pension regimes and welfare systems.

Persevere with this – the germ of the insight came from Dubner and Levitt's latest “Superfreakenomics”…(p.92) but the expansion (bow to current paranoia re plagiarism) is entirely mine thank you…..

No comments:

Post a Comment