Emily Oster teaches economics at Chicago (one of the world’s best economic faculties). As an economist, she concluded that she had lots of skills that she could apply to being pregnant, “making good decisions–in business, and in life–requires two things: the right data, and the right way to weigh the pluses and minuses of a decision personally. The key is that even with the same data, this second part–this weighing of the pluses and minuses–may result in different decisions for different people. Individuals may value the same thing differently. Making this decision correctly requires thinking hard about the alternative, and that’s not going to be the same for everyone. This isn’t just one way to make decisions. It is the correct way.”
Life, she discovered, isn’t quite like an economics course. Obstetricians, for one, are not used to being asked for evidence to justify their recommendations. As this article in The Atlantic shows, she ended up challenging a great deal of accepted medical wisdom and routine medical practice. Maybe we need to apply the critical eye of economists to a few more medical decisions?