Some good replies to the post "Conflict of Interest: On Confidence, and Confidence."
One of things that stood out to me is how a couple commenters assumed that because they're reasonable, other people should also be reasonable. I mean, if a doctor checks something carefully in a reference book in front of me, I think that's a good thing. You probably do too.
But many people don't think that way.
A lot of people have unrealistic expectations of the world, especially of professionals like doctors.
There was a brilliant comment by Kate Johnson, who is a veterinarian. Kate writes -
I’m a veterinarian and I find this to be completely true in practice. I think people want to be able to have an almost god-like faith in your abilities. Sometimes what people are asking you to do is make the decision for them – that is why they are paying you, that it why they came for your advice. It can be hard to explain to someone with a very different educational background that a dry reference book would not necessarily be able to inform decision making if you didn’t already have a broad understanding. It can be helpful and supportive to present a confident exterior (confident in the notion that it is up to you, rather than in the idea that you know everything) and consult with colleagues/reference manuals in private rather than in front of an anxious client. Sometimes the most professional thing to do is not force the client to watch the process but just explain the outcome clearly and confidently.
"I think people want to be able to have an almost god-like faith in your abilities. ... It can be helpful and supportive to present a confident exterior (confident in the notion that it is up to you, rather than in the idea that you know everything) and consult with colleagues/reference manuals in private rather than in front of an anxious client."
Really, really good feedback there Kate. That's probably also true for most kinds of professionals - people don't want to see uncertainty from their doctor or veterinarian, but probably also not any other skilled professional they hire.
I'm a huge believer in research and double-checking yourself, and any skilled professional should do that. But Kate's comment is a good reminder that we need to think about our "bedside manner" and making clients comfortable with decisions. The vast majority of people do not want to see uncertainty in a profession, so spend time thinking on how you can both be well-informed and take good care of people and their expectations.
Great comment Kate, extremely insightful. Thank you.
I commented on an article at New Scientist a bit back called, "You say sin, I say disease" -
Here's my comment -
More and more, I'm starting to come to the awful conclusion that most people have very little control over how their lives go. They maybe have a few key decision points in their life - but maybe not all that many.
And the rest is autopilot. They watch some subset of the new movies, new TV programs, websites they stumble across. They eat whatever's more or less served near them and eaten by people they associate with. They pick the political party that matches their friends and relatives, or no party, or maybe they pick up a book that has an emotional impact on them and swear loyalty to that. Maybe.
I hate this idea, because it seems to subtly advocate for totalitarianism, which I've been against my whole life. But then there's nagging voice that says, "well, just ban all the food that's unhealthy, and people will eat better..." - but we know where that road leads.
Humans have approximately 99.9% identical DNA, yet for some reason everyone seems to think they’re “cut from another cookie.”