Things You Know That Ain’t So

It’s not the things you don’t know that get you, but the things you know that ain’t so. – Attributed to Samuel Clemens

There are many situations in which we don’t care so much about the total overall accuracy of a source or a process, but want to specifically find their errors. Usually it’s because we want to correct the errors or avoid them in the future ourselves.

In such cases, I’ve generally found that the most effective way to do this isn’t to closely examine the topics and conceptual places that get lots of attention from others. Even slight uncertainties will probably have been noted and fiercely debated already. Instead, it’s more productive to take a look at the places few people think are worth examining, or that have been wrongly passed over as already-known, because that’s where uncaught errors will accumulate.

When I started investigating medical errors and issues, I expected that I’d find mistakes and some uncertain grey areas that should probably be looked at again. What I actually found was that there were countless obvious problems that few people bother looking at once, much less twice.

I’ll be discussing these issues, some of which are resolved but whose implications are not acknowledged, some of which still occur, in the near future.

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