For some reason I find these quotes relevant to the recent vaccine
discussions - for both sides. It's like a report I heard a while ago
of the NTSB predicting a significant plane collision coming because of
so many near misses and the FAA saying there have been no crashes and
therefore the system works. Both are right and both are wrong. You
just have to pick what level of worry you want to have and how you want
to look at relative risks and potential benefits.
"An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a
drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather
than for illumination. "
- Andrew Lang
"Forecasting is the art of saying what will happen,
and then explaining why it didn't! "
- Anonymous (communicated by Balaji Rajagopalan)
"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which
grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me. "
- William Shakespeare
"My interest is in the future because I am going to
spend the rest of my life there. "
- C.F. Kettering
"Wall Street indices predicted nine out of the last
five recessions !"
- Paul A. Samuelson in Newsweek,
Science and Stocks, 19 September 1966
And just so everyone knows where I stand, I follow two major
philsophies: (1) There is no free lunch and (2) Dr. Phil Brunell's
philosophy of "Grab 'em and stab 'em" (although I'll draw the line at 4
injections at a single visit). I was privileged to have David H Smith
as my chair during my residency and have seen the impact of the H flu
vaccine on preventing the almost daily admissions of invasive H flu
disease. The societal benefit of immunizations far outweigh the adverse
Of course, only the paranoid survives and just because you're paranoid
doesn't mean they're not out to get you so one always must remain
vigilant and continually reassess what one does.