for the curious and bewildered;
an excruciatingly gentle introduction.
Here’s a story problem about a situation that doctors often encounter:
1% of women at age forty who participate in routine screening have breast cancer. 80% of women with breast cancer will get positive mammographies. 9.6% of women without breast cancer will also get positive mammographies. A woman in this age group had a positive mammography in a routine screening. What is the probability that she actually has breast cancer? What do you think the answer is?
If you haven’t encountered this kind of problem before, please take a moment to come up with your own answer before continuing.
Next, suppose I told you that most doctors get the same wrong answer on this problem - usually, only around 15% of doctors get it right.
"The trouble with the world was," she continued hesitatingly, "that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn't be all the trouble there was."
"You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."
“I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The color of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don’t notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is.”—
“My hands were shaking so bad I couldn’t get the egg to crack. I just keep hitting it on the side of the bowl; soft and unsteady taps at first, then harder and harder until it exploded all over me. I had to fight off tears for the rest of my mumbly demonstration. I told you guys about being a pussy.”—
“Well, he felt sorry for the boys who lived in California where they wore tennis shoes all year and never knew what it was to get winter off your feet, peel off the iron leather shoes all full of snow and rain and run barefoot for a day and then lace on the first new tennis shoes of the season, which was better than barefoot. The magic was always in the new pair of shoes. The magic night might die by the first of September, but now in late June there was still plenty of magic, and shoes like these could jump you over trees and rivers and houses.”—
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
I need to shake off winter with a new pair of chucks.