Contrary to popular opinion, one of the main problems in providing uniformly excellent health care is not lack of money but lack of knowledge—on the part of both doctors and patients. The studies in this book show that many doctors and most patients do not understand the available medical evidence. Both patients and doctors are "risk illiterate"—frequently unable to tell the difference between actual risk and relative risk. Doctors often cannot interpret test results; patients cannot make informed decisions if they are given bad information.
In recent decades, the economists' concept of rational choice has dominated legal reasoning. And yet, in practical terms, neither the lawbreakers the law addresses nor officers of the law behave as the hyperrational beings postulated by rational choice.
In a complex and uncertain world, humans and animals make decisions under the constraints of limited knowledge, resources, and time. Yet models of rational decision making in economics, cognitive science, biology, and other fields largely ignore these real constraints and instead assume agents with perfect information and unlimited time. About forty years ago, Herbert Simon challenged this view with his notion of "bounded rationality." Today, bounded rationality has become a fashionable term used for disparate views of reasoning.
This monumental work traces the rise, the transformation, and the diffusion of probabilistic and statistical thinking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors - scientists, historians, and philosophers of science from eight countries make it possible for readers trained in many disciplines to see why the probabilistic revolution has been so complete and so successful.