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The Truth About…

June 17, 2013

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Just when I think I’m out…they pull me back in.  Last week I wrote a blog post warning readers to be aware of chauffeur knowledge.   Of course I am always on the lookout for potential chauffeurs, so when it came to my attention that TV doctor, Mehmet Oz did a series of shows called Toxic Teeth: Are Amalgam Fillings Safe? my chauffeur radar sounded an alarm.

Just the act of Googling Dr. Oz will show you that he has an opinion on just about everything known to man, and with a surgeon’s credentials and the backing of the media…you always have to wonder about his purpose.  Not that I am the suspicious type, but when he treads on my industry…I prefer the truth…if there is a truth.

I don’t want to get into the so called facts about amalgam.  The Internet is filled with conflicting information (of course if you have a dog in the fight you won’t think the info conflicts).  That’s why we may never know the truth about many things.  Yet we all have to make decisions…everyday.  Amalgam? Composite resin? Gold (there’s one Dr. Oz never mentioned)? X-rays? Centric relation occlusion? Neuromuscular occlusion?

Did you ever notice how all the chauffeurs start off by saying, “The Truth About…”

That’s what Dr. Oz did—he used words like poison, firestorm, potential toxicity, all the while an ominous soundtrack played like the one you hear when a political candidate has an ad about his opponent.  Well done production…but it doesn’t get us any closer to the truth.

I know the truth.

Well it’s my truth anyway.  Another word for my truth is opinion...I formed it by observing the field for over forty years and working in the profession…I’m not the chauffeur.  At the end of this post I will give you my truth.

Rolf Dobelli, in his fascinating book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, writes about two ideas that may come into play when making choices like the ones above:  Neglect of Probability and Zero-Risk Bias.

The first one, Neglect of Probability is our tendency to make decisions based on magnitude rather than true probabilities.  For example many people invest money in start-ups because of the high potential of profits to be made, and ignore the poor odds of a business actually making it.

Another example is the way many more people play the Mega- Jackpot lotteries even though the odds of winning are so much smaller compared to the normal lotteries.  Magnitude over probability…got it? Good.

Now let’s talk about Zero-Risk Bias…this is a bit more complicated.

The example Dobelli gives is to examine two methods of treating drinking water.  A river gets its water from two equally large tributaries.  One is treated with method A and the other with method B.  Method A reduces the risk of dying from contamination from 5 to 2 percent.  Method B reduces the risk of dying from 1 to 0 percent.

So which would you pick? (more…)