[ExI] robin hanson on health care

Harvey Newstrom mail at harveynewstrom.com
Thu Jun 11 14:32:37 UTC 2009

On Thursday 11 June 2009 2:07:28 am spike wrote:
> Monday was the 60th anniversary of the publication of Orwell's 1984.  Sheer
> brilliance is that masterpiece.
> On another topic, during the discussion of health care, I never saw mention
> of Robin Hanson's piece, which he wrote nearly two years ago, but which has
> an Orwellian ring of truth:
> http://www.cato-unbound.org/2007/09/10/robin-hanson/cut-medicine-in-half/
> <http://www.cato-unbound.org/2007/09/10/robin-hanson/cut-medicine-in-half/>

Strange, but I don't equate "Orwellian" with "truth"...  And I have the same 
reaction to Dr. Robin Hanson's claims:

Correlation is not causation!  I don't know how many times this has to be 
repeated.  Hanson's claim that more medical spending causes more sickness is 
just ludicrous.  A better explanation for the same set of statistics is that 
more sickness causes more medical spending.  Does anybody disagree with this 
statement?  If not, doesn't it explain everything without adding more 
complicated and less obvious theories to explain it?  Hanson's claims are 
based on a known logical fallacy involving the incorrect use of statistics.

His examples of "causation" are flawed with circular logic.  He shows that 
people are "caused" to consume more care when it is cheaper.  But it seems to 
be assumed that the increased cost is bad.  He doesn't clearly prove that they 
got no value.  Like insurance, checkups give value by avoiding risk, even when 
no intervention is required.  Robin seems to be arguing that we should avoid 
insurance because most of the time we won't need it.

Given all this information, and having a clear understanding of the 
statistics, logic, and spending, I still choose the options that Robin is 
arguing against.  I want a bunch of checkups that cost money and don't find 
anything wrong.  They will help prolong my life when I finally grow old enough 
to catch my final fatal illness.  Sure, it would be cheaper if I ignore it and 
just die when my time comes.  But I rather fight and stave off my death, even if 
it costs more money to stay alive.  Sorry, Robin.  :)

Harvey Newstrom <www.HarveyNewstrom.com>

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