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September 04, 2018


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Excellent article and commentary. I wonder if the disproportionate fear of cancer relative to heart disease can also be traced to the apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis regardless of lifestyle choices, as compared with the years of voluntary lifestyle choices that often (though not always) precede heart disease. I certainly feel that way as someone with both cancer and heart disease in the family. I have made all the changes necessary to ward off heart disease, but other than not smoking or drinking and taking a couple other minimal precautions, there appears to be litte I can do to prevent the sudden cancer diagnosis. In a perverse way, I have analogized heart disease to a car accident after years of reckless driving and cancer to a terrorist attack - the former has been foreshadowed to some degree while the latter had no warning. Hence, the increased and outsized fear of cancer and terrrorist attacks.

Scott Fruehwald

Excellent post. As you know Steve, I have written a book on cognitive biases for lawyers: Understanding and Overcoming Cognitive Biases for Lawyers and Law Students: Becoming a Better Lawyer Through Cognitive Science (2018). Since I started studying cognitive biases, I see them everywhere. For example, I think that cognitive biases explain a large part of the political divide in this country.

Steve L.

Thanks, Scott. I own your book and refer to it often.

Betsy DeVos Save our Kids Foundation

Why is there a cognitive bias against paying lawyers a fee? Explain to me why my clients refuse to pay when their liberty is at stake? Why do clients feel it's okay to screw their lawyer out of an agreed fee? And, why are lawyers expected to give away their time and service as Pro Bono and doctors, teachers and electricians, not? Can I go and ask for a Pro Bono Toyota? Why do folks expect legal services for free?

Bill Turnier

Although heart disease and cancer draw most attention as the primary.causes of death third place belongs to a real silent killer, medical mistake which accounts for 9.5% of all deaths. It does not appear on any list of causes of death because death certificates only list the ultimate cause of death such as sepsis or hemorrhage. About .75% of all patients who enter a hospital for a procedure will die because of medical mistake. This should be contrasted with the fact that although about 900 million people board a scheduled airline each year to fly, it is a rather safe undertaking with only one person dying on a flight innthe last 8-9 years. I presume most would be flyers stand a much greater chance of dying in an automobile crash on the way to the airport than they do of dying on a flight, yet many people approach the car ride with ease but are white knuckled as their plane takes off.

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