*Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe*

That is the new and excellent book by Greg Ip, no fluff here substance all around. From the book’s home page:

How the very things we create to protect ourselves, like money market funds or anti-lock brakes, end up being the biggest threats to our safety and wellbeing.

Here is one excerpt:

The experiment found that people with no impairment to the brain’s emotional center were much more conservative.  After losing money on one coin toss, only 40 percent of them agreed to invest on the next — but 85 percent of the brain-damaged patients did.  By the end of the game, the brain-damaged patients had earned an average of $25.70 while the healthy players averaged $22.60.

And another:

By Spellberg’s reckoning, the odds of an adverse reaction to an antibiotic, such as an allergic reaction, are about 1 in 10, whereas the odds that someone will suffer because antibiotics were wrongly withheld are about 1 in 10,000.  Nonetheless, most physicians do not want to run the risk of letting a patient suffer when an antibiotic could help…His research in Nepal produced the depressing finding that antibiotic resistance was highest in communities with the most doctors.

Spellberg thinks trying to persuade doctors not to prescribe antibiotics is a doomed strategy.  Better, he says, to develop tests that rapidly identify what bug a patient has and thus whether an antibiotic is needed.

Strongly recommended, devoured my copy in a single sitting right away, due out this coming Tuesday.  By the way here is the FT review by Andrew Hill.


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