This link is to a long article by Malcolm Gladwell called The Picture Problem: Mammography, Air Power and the Limits of Looking. I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety. If we, as a nation, are ever to gain control over health care and its costs, we need to educate ourselves about the limits of technology.

Below is an excerpt from Gladwell’s The Picture Problem

…You can build a high-tech camera, capable of taking pictures in the middle of the night, in other words, but the system works only if the camera is pointed in the right place, and even then the pictures are not self-explanatory. They need to be interpreted, and the human task of interpretation is often a bigger obstacle than the technical task of picture-taking. This was the lesson of the Scud hunt: pictures promise to clarify but often confuse. The Zapruder film intensified rather than dispelled the controversy surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The videotape of the beating of Rodney King led to widespread uproar about police brutality; it also served as the basis for a jury’s decision to acquit the officers charged with the assault. Perhaps nowhere have these issues been so apparent, however, as in the arena of mammography. Radiologists developed state-of-the-art X-ray cameras and used them to scan women’s breasts for tumors, reasoning that, if you can take a nearly perfect picture, you can find and destroy tumors before they go on to do serious damage. Yet there remains a great deal of confusion about the benefits of mammography. Is it possible that we place too much faith in pictures?…

More at The Picture Problem: Mammography, Air Power and the Limits of Looking

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