Prediction is difficult

Experts have said families and loved ones are being needlessly worried after new research showed the tool over-predicted the chances of death more often than not.

The so-called “surprise question”, encourages doctors to ask themselves “Would you be surprised if this patient were to die in the next few months, weeks, days?”

A wide scale analysis by University College London found that more than half of those predicted to die within a specific time lived longer than expected.

More than half meaning what? 55%?

Not that bad I would have thought as an average of guesses.

22 thoughts on “Prediction is difficult”

  1. Tim. Totally OT, but I read a post on Jo Nova’s blog re. all-electric cars that questioned the ability of miners to supply the enormous quantities of rare metals, notably Lithium and Cobalt, needed to manufacture all the batteries. As minerals are your forte, have you done any research on the problem?

  2. Dependent on the speed of the expansion there could certainly be price rises to as demand increases faster than supply. But there’s plenty of both out there. Only a timing problem, nothing else, most certainly not some existential shortage.

  3. Since electric cars are –and will likely remain for a long time–shite the question is in the realms of irrelevant fantasy.

  4. But what a daft question. Would I be ‘surprised’ if anyone I know died in any given time interval? Not really: that’s what happens to people.

    Would I be astonished if friend X died next week? Yes.

  5. What an indictment of Tory rule.

    It is a fundamental human right for everyone to live longer than expected.

    I blame Mrs Thatcher.

  6. Maybe they have annuities. In spite of the best actuarial data, people with annuities tend to live longer than expected. It was professionally explained to me as “pure cussedness.”

  7. Mind you annuities are now less common so perhaps that explains the slowing of increases in life expectancy?

  8. Maybe widows claim the old boy is still alive long after he’s died. I’ve heard that explanation put forward for the life expectancy data from Japan.

  9. Unfortunately, from stupid inane questions like this rise all sorts of further public health Marxist-inspired twattery, all backed up by ‘science’ (or a shit survey in actual fact).

  10. The only thing I’ve learned from this bit of research is that quacks don’t seem to have much confidence in their abilities.

  11. AndrewC
    August 2, 2017 at 11:11 am
    What an indictment of Tory rule.

    It is a fundamental human right for everyone to live longer than expected.

    I blame Mrs Thatcher.

    Indeed. I expect the next election will feature a promise from Mr Corbyn & Ms Abbott that ‘under Labour, everyone will live longer than average’.

  12. In spite of the best actuarial data, people with annuities tend to live longer than expected.

    Possibly “pure cussedness” (cue Mrs Fannie Dashwood…), but I would guess it’s a combination of information assymetry and adverse selection (or positive, for the buyer) that can’t be teased out of the statistics. I suspect people who plan to take care of themselves actually do, you know, take care of themselves

  13. https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/82696/1/wp2007-008.pdf

    Does taxation affect the timing of death? This is
    important as an example of how behavior might
    be affected by economic incentives. We study how
    three changes in Swedish inheritance taxation
    2004-2005 have affected daily all-cause mortality.
    Our first main result is that mortality
    decreased by 16 percent the day before the begi
    nning of expected tax reductions. Second, there
    was no corresponding effect before an unexpected tax reduction

  14. More than a few days out, predictions of mortality start to resemble the longterm weather forecast and should be resisted.

  15. “I expect the next election will feature a promise from Mr Corbyn & Ms Abbott that ‘under Labour, everyone will live longer than average’.”

    Think how stupid someone of average intelligence can be, then recall that 50% of people are even more stupid…and Corbyn begins to look like our future.

  16. Living longer will soon be regarded as antisocial.
    A ‘burden’ etc.
    Life expectancy will be adjusted to be fair and/or equal.
    The equality life span department will naturally be part of the NHS.

  17. Social Justice Warrior

    “More than half” in the report means 54% (press release, paper).

    Answering “no” to the question “would you be surprised if X happens” is not of course a prediction that X will happen.

  18. ‘under Labour, everyone will live longer than average’.

    Translation: When the revolution comes you will live as long as we deem it necessary, comrades.

  19. This is a poor question; it is as much a matter of the doctor’s sensitivity as their ability to forecast.

    It reminds me of the questions I was asked after a fairly serious operation:

    How do you feel?
    How do you mean?
    On scale of 1to 10?
    What is 1? What is 10?
    1is the worst ever, 10 is fine?
    Is that a logarithmic or linear scale?

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