Kaiser reports his conversation with his dentist:
Dentist: You need a deep cleaning.
Statistician: I don’t believe in deep cleaning.
Dentist: I only manage to clean the exposed part of the teeth. In your X-ray, we can see tartar buildup underneath the gums. Your teeth will fall out eventually if we don’t clean it up now.
Statistician: My teeth feel fine, in fact, the best in years. I don’t like the cost-benefit tradeoff of deep cleaning. . . .
The funny thing is that I don’t act like a statistician when I go to the dentist. In particular:
1. I believe whatever my dentist tells me.
2. When I switch dentists, the new dentist typically gives me completely different advice than I received from all the previous dentists.
I’d like to think that I’m practicing what I. J. Good calls Type 2 rationality–that is, the rationality that tells me that I’m not realistically going to make a fully rational decision in this area, hence it’s most rational to make a decision using a fast and frugal heuristic (in this case, trusting whatever my dentist tells me).
When considering my long-term happiness and comfort, however, maybe I’d be better off putting some more time into research on dentistry and less time on . . . I dunno, blogging? For some reason, I’m full of confidence in evaluating all sorts of arguments about social science and causality, but I’m completely intimidated when it comes to something such as dental care that affects me personally.