Survivor's mistake

    "Protection" is a good label for bad deeds.
    Milton Friedman “Freedom to Choose”

    This text is the result of the analysis of some comments on the articles “Like Defects” and “Economics and Human Rights” .

    Interpreting any data and drawing conclusions, some commentators made a typical “survivor mistake”.

    What is a survivor’s systematic error? This is an account of the known and neglect of the unknown, but existing .

    An example of the “cost” of a survivor’s mistake and an example of successfully overcoming this mistake is the work of the Hungarian mathematician Abraham Wald, who worked for the American army during World War II.

    The command entrusted Wald with the task of analyzing holes from bullets and fragments on American planes and suggesting a booking method so that pilots and planes would not die.

    It was impossible to apply a full reservation - the plane was too heavy. It was necessary either to book those places where the damage was, where the bullets hit, or those places where there was no damage. Wald's opponents offered to book damaged places (in the picture they are marked with red dots).


    Wald objected. He said that aircraft with such damage could not return, while aircraft with damage in other places could not return. Wald's point of view prevailed. The planes were booked where the returning cars were not damaged. As a result, the number of surviving aircraft has increased significantly. According to some reports, Wald thus saved the lives of approximately 30% of American pilots. (In the figure, I could be wrong, but the effect was very significant. Wald saved hundreds of lives).

    Another illustration of the “survivor’s mistake” is Cicero’s story about the words of Diagor Melossky, who argues in favor of the oaths to the gods, because there are many “images of the salvation of people who fell into a storm and took an oath to the gods to make a vow,” replied, that "however, there are no images of those who died at sea as a result of a shipwreck."

    And the first “survivor’s mistake” in the comments to the article “Like defects” is that we don’t know how many good, useful, ingenious ideas, creations, inventions, scientific works were buried by various “dislikes”, “ignorers” and “bans” .

    To quote Mr. @Sen's wording :“Nobody knows how many good ideas have been merged, not published, not developed for fear of ban. How many attempts were quietly ended with the author’s ban - too. What is visible now is how many successful ideas were recognized right away or belatedly, how many failed ones were not recognized. If you rely only on what is visible, then yes, everything is ok. ”

    This is true for any rating system based on the preferences of the majority. Be it science, social networks, search engines, primitive tribes, religious groups or other human communities.

    Not always “ban” and “dislike” occur by “malicious intent”. The reaction of "indignation" to something new and unusual - this is a routine physiological and psychological reaction, called the buzzword "cognitive dissonance" - this is just a feature of the whole Homo Sapiens species, and not a property of any particular group. But each group may have its own irritants. And the “newer” and “more unusual”, the stronger the indignation, the greater the dissonance. And you need to be very good at owning your psyche so as not to attack the “troublemaker”. Which, however, does not justify the aggressor. "Outrage" only "outrages", while the actions of the aggressor are aimed at destruction.

    The survivor’s mistake is also found in the comments on the article “Economics and Human Rights” . And regarding the certification of drugs.

    A little lower, I’ll quote a large quote from the book “Freedom to Choose” by Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, but for now I’ll just notice that for some reason not a lot of clinical trials, certificates and other things convince people to get vaccinated, drink prescribed antibiotics and hormones. Those. licensing and certification in this case "does not work." At the same time, there are quite a few people who use dietary supplements or homeopathy who do not undergo (to put it mildly) such serious control as drugs. There are many people who prefer to turn to healers and traditional healers, instead of going to the doctor and drinking “chemistry”, which has licenses, certificates, and which has passed many tests and tests.

    The price of such a decision is incredibly high - from disability to death. Quick death. The time that the patient spends on treatment with dietary supplements, neglecting chemistry and a visit to the doctor, turns into a missed opportunity to manage the disease at an early stage, the so-called "lucid interval".

    It is important to understand that before the medicine is sent for “certification”, the pharmaceutical company conducts many of its own tests and controls, including in public.

    Certification only duplicates this procedure. Moreover, in every country everything is repeated, which ultimately increases the cost of the drug for the consumer.


    This was a slight digression. Now, greatly cutting back, I quote from Milton Friedman.

    "Organizing a joint mutually beneficial activity of people does not require the intervention of external forces, coercion or restriction of freedom ... Currently, there is considerable evidence that the regulatory activities of the Office (FDA) are harmful, that it has done more harm, inhibiting progress in the production and distribution of useful drugs than benefits by protecting the market from harmful and ineffective drugs.
    The impact of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the pace of introduction of new drugs is very significant ... now it takes much more time to get approval for a new drug, and partly because of this, the cost of developing new drugs has increased many times ... for the introduction of a new product on the market you need to spend 54 million dollars and about 8 years, i.e. there was a hundredfold increase in costs and a fourfold increase in time compared to a general twofold increase in prices. As a result, US pharmaceutical companies are no longer able to develop new drugs to treat patients with rare diseases. In addition, we cannot even take full advantage of foreign achievements,

    If you examine the therapeutic value of drugs that have not appeared in the United States, but are available, for example, in England, you will come across a number of cases where patients have suffered from a lack of drugs. For example, there are drugs called beta blockers that can prevent death from a heart attack — a secondary prevention of death from myocardial infarction — if these drugs were available in the United States, they could save about ten thousand lives a year ...

    An indirect consequence for the patient is the fact that therapeutic decisions, which were previously at the discretion of the doctor and patient, are increasingly made at the national level by expert committees. For the Food and Drug Administration, the highest priority is risk avoidance, as a result of which we have safer, but no more effective, medicines .

    It is by no means accidental that the Food and Drug Administration, in spite of the best intentions, discourages by its actions the development and implementation of new and potentially useful drugs on the market.

    Put yourself in the position of an Office official responsible for approving or disapproving a new drug. You can make two mistakes:

    1. To approve a medicine that has an unforeseen side effect that will lead to death or serious ill health of a relatively large number of people.

    2. Refuse to approve a medicine that could save the lives of many people or alleviate tremendous suffering and not have adverse side effects.

    If you make the first mistake and approve, your name will appear on the front pages of all newspapers. You will fall into severe disgrace. If you make a second mistake, who knows? A pharmaceutical company promoting a new drug that you can brush aside, like a model of greedy businessmen with stone hearts? A few furious chemists and doctors involved in the development and testing of a new drug?

    Patients whose lives could be saved will no longer be able to protest. Their families will not even know that the people they love have lost their lives because of the “caution” of an unknown official from the Food and Drug Administration.

    Even with the best intentions in the world, you would involuntarily prohibit many good medicines or postpone their approval in order to avoid even the distant opportunity to bring to the market a medicine that would have a side effect in the form of newspaper hype ...
    The harm caused by the activities of the Food and Drug Administration is not a consequence of the shortcomings of people in senior positions. Many of them are capable and loyal public servants. Nevertheless, social, political and economic pressure determines the behavior of people responsible for the activities of a government agency, much more than they themselves determine its behavior. No doubt there are exceptions, but they are almost as rare as barking cats. ” The end of the quote.

    Thus, the “survivor’s mistake” in assessing the effectiveness of the work of the regulatory body “manages” to humanity 10,000 lives a year for only one drug in one country. The size of the entire invisible part of this iceberg is difficult to estimate. And perhaps scary.

    “Patients whose lives could be saved will no longer be able to protest. Their families will not even know that the people they love have lost their lives because of the “caution” of an unknown official . Not a single negligent manufacturer did such damage to his fellow citizens.


    Among other things, the certification service is quite expensive for taxpayers. Those. to all residents. According to the calculations of Milton Friedman, the proportion of "eaten up" by officials regulating various social programs in the United States is about half of the total amount of taxes allocated to various social payments. This half is spent on salaries and other expenses of officials from the social distribution and regulatory system. Any business would have gone bankrupt long ago with such unproductive overhead.

    This is the same as paying a waiter a tip in the amount of the cost of a dinner for a poor service in a restaurant. Or pay for the packaging of products in the supermarket in the amount of their full cost only for the fact that you pack them in bags.

    The presence of an official in the chain manufacturer-product-consumer or service-consumer doubles the cost of any product and service. Those. twice as much goods and services could be bought for any person’s salary if the official weren’t in charge of these goods and services.
    As Judge Louis Brandis said: “Experience teaches that freedom is especially in need of protection when the government strives for beneficial purposes.”

    Licensing, as well as other prohibitive methods of regulating (depressing) the economy, are not at all new and have been known since the Middle Ages. All varieties of guilds, castes, estates - this is nothing more than licensing and certification, translated into modern language. And their goal has always been one - to limit competition, raise prices, increase the income of "their" and prevent "strangers." Those. all the same discrimination and commonplace cartel conspiracy, worsening quality and increasing prices for the consumer.

    Maybe you need to somehow get out of the Middle Ages? In the courtyard of the 21st century.

    Traffic accidents are arranged by drivers who have rights and licenses. Medical errors are made by certified and licensed doctors. Poorly taught, psychologically injured students are licensed and certified teachers. At the same time, healers, homeopaths, shamans and charlatans do fine without licenses and exams and thrive, doing their job, satisfying the demand of the population.

    At the same time, all these licenses and permits feed a lot of officials who do not produce any goods or services that are useful to citizens, but for some reason they have the right to decide for a citizen where to be treated and study for his own taxes .

    One can only be surprised at the fact that, despite the prohibitive vector of the work of officials, pharmaceutical companies nevertheless managed to register in the 20th century many drugs that saved millions of lives.

    And it remains only to be horrified at how many drugs were not developed, were not registered, were economically unpromising due to the high cost and duration of the resolution process. Terrified of how many people cost their lives and health the result of the prohibitive activities of officials.

    At the same time, the presence of a huge number of licensing, supervising, supervising and penalizing officials and authorities did not in the least reduce the number of charlatans, national drugs, all kinds of panacea and magic pills. Some of them are produced under the guise of biologically active additives, some are simply distributed bypassing any pharmacies, shops and authorities.

    Should I continue to insist on the erroneous path of licensing and regulation? I think not.

    If the brain of a heroic respected reader who has read the article to the end does not yet blaze with fierce cognitive dissonance, then I want to recommend four books written in very simple language and destroying many myths regarding capitalism, the mistakes of the survivor, the mistakes of the survivor, the economy and state control. These books are:Milton Friedman “Freedom to Choose,” Ayn Rand, “Capitalism. Unfamiliar ideal, " Stephen Levitt " Freakonomics ", Malcolm Gladwell " Geniuses and outsiders ", Frederick Bastia " What is visible and what is not visible. "
    And here is another article about the "survivor's mistake."

    Illustrations : McGeddon , Sergey Elkin , Acrolesta .

    PS Dear Sirs, Please remember that “The polemic style is more important than the subject of polemic. Items change, and style creates civilization. ” (Grigory Pomerantz). If I did not answer your comment, then something is wrong with the style of your polemic.

    I apologize to everyone who wrote a sensible comment, but I did not answer. The fact is that one of the users was addicted to minus my comments. Each. As soon as it appears. This prevents me from gaining a “charge” and putting a plus in karma and for the answer to those who write sensible comments.
    But if you still want to get an answer and discuss the article, you can write me a personal message. I answer them.

    Appendix 2.
    “Survivor's mistake” as an example of this article.
    At the time of this writing, the article has 33.9k views and 141 comments.
    Suppose that most of them are negative in relation to the article.
    Those. 33,900 people read the article. They scolded 100. 339 times less.
    Those. if it is very rough and with assumptions to round, the author does not have data on the opinions of 33,800 readers, but there is data only on the opinions of 100 readers (in fact, even less, because some readers leave a few comments).
    And what does the author do, i.e. Am I reading the comments? I make a typical "mistake of the survivor." I analyze only a hundred "minuses", completely (psychologically) ignoring the fact that this is only 0.3% of opinions. And on the basis of these 0.3%, which is within the statistical error, I conclude that I did not like the article. Sorry, not having the slightest reason for this, if we reason logically, and not emotionally.
    T.O. The “survivor's mistake” lies not only in the field of mathematics, but probably in the field of psychology and neurophysiology, which makes its detection and correction a rather “painful thing” for the human brain.

    Supplement 3.
    Although this is beyond the scope of this article, but since the comments rather vigorously discuss the issue of monitoring the quality of drugs, I answer immediately to everyone.
    An alternative to state control may be the creation of private expert laboratories that will check the quality of drugs in competition with each other. (And such laboratories, societies, associations and institutions in the world already exist).
    What will it give? Firstly, it will eliminate corruption, since there will always be an opportunity to double-check and refute the data of a corrupt examination. Secondly, it will be faster and cheaper. Just because private business is always more efficient than public business. Thirdly, an expert laboratory will sell its services, which means it will be responsible for the quality, time, prices, all of which together will reduce the cost of drugs in the pharmacy. Fourth, if the package does not bear a mark on verification in an independent private expert laboratory, or even in two or three, then the buyer will understand that the medicine is unverified. Or verified repeatedly. And it will "vote in rubles" for one or another pharmaceutical manufacturer.

    Addition 4.
    It seems to me that it is important to consider the “survivor's mistake” when developing AI, machine learning algorithms, etc.
    Those. to lay in the training program not only well-known examples, but also a certain delta, perhaps even theoretical models of the “possible unknown”.
    Using the example of “drawing” AI, this could be conditionally “van Gogh + delta”, then with a large value of the delta, the machine will create a filter based on van Gogh, but it is completely different from it.
    Similar training m. useful where there is a lack of data: medicine, genetics, quantum physics, astronomy, etc.
    (I apologize if I explained it “crookedly”).

    Note (I hope the last)
    To everyone who read to the end - "Thank you." I am very pleased to see your “bookmarks” and “views”.


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