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Editorial on ‘Assessing the association between thinking dispositions and clinical error’

Statistics from


  • i The incorrect Type 1 answer (given by 67%) is 100 mg and 10 mg. The correct Type 2 answer is 105 mg and 5 mg.

  • ii Daniel Simons. 10 Mar 2010. Selective attention test [video]. (70% fail in this task).

  • iii Quirkology. 28 Apr 2007. Colour changing card trick [video].

  • iv Type 1 thinking suggests you need not change because the money is still in the same box. But you should change. When you made your choice the chance of the money being in your chosen box was one-third and the chance it was in the other two boxes was two-thirds. When Monty Hall opens the one (empty) box from the two you did not choose the chance that the remaining unopened box contains the money becomes two-thirds. So you should change. The situation of the money has not changed but the information you have has changed. When Marilyn vos Savant, whose IQ is apparently about 200, gave the correct answer ‘You should change’ in an American Journal she received considerable insulting erroneous rebuttals from so-called experts stating that she was wrong and she should leave such matters in the hands of experts like them. Nearly, the same as ‘Trust me I’m a doctor.’

  • v In England and Wales in each year, there were 30–50 homicides per million children less than 1 year old between 1982 and 1996 and this, very approximately is one in a million and therefore the chances of two infant murders, according to the previous reasoning, were 1 in 1 000 000 000 000. So the possibility of double infanticide was much more remote. In such rare situations, statistics are often useless and may be dangerous.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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