Pretty obvious lesson here, but I will state it anyway. If you want to avoid becoming obese, eat well and exercise. Perhaps less obviously, try to convince yourself that exercise is not the key to fitting into that five-year-old pair of Levi’s.
Sometimes fast-thinking is not so good. Which raises an interesting question for physicians trying to help patients navigate important medical decisions: Will they harm patients by explaining things so simply that patients make fast, erroneous choices?
We can’t leave well-enough alone. What we know to be true – “this patient does not have an acute neurological problem” – isn’t fully true until we have imaged the heck out of patients and can see – fully and tangibly see – that their brains look just as normal as we knew them to be.
Given that the right choice often depends on patient preferences, it would be great to help patients understand enough of their math to involve them in making the choice. Pictographs can help them understand.
Delaying gratification is an important life skill. As Walter Mischel showed in a series of groundbreaking studies, children who can delay gratification are more likely to go to college and less likely to end up in jail.
In Critical Decisions, I write about controversies and challenges that arise in medical decision making, from the bedside to the boardroom. I weave together stories from "the trenches" with reflections on the ethics and the psychology of decision making when our health is at stake. Of note: when I write about patients in these posts, I use pseudonyms unless indicated, and add or subtract details to protect people's identities.