We’ve lengthy been advised how a lot we will be taught from our errors. (This week’s visitor even wrote a e-book about it!) However what if a mistake is so terrible, not solely will we not be taught from it, we will’t even dwell with it. That is the kind of mistake Washington Publish columnist Megan McArdle calls an Oedipus lure. In this episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes McArdle again to debate this lure, describing some fascinating examples.

Of their dialog about confronting our errors and the problem of affirmation bias, McArdle shares the story of Dr. Walter Freeman a “pioneer” in utilizing lobotomies to deal with psychological sickness. Regardless of overwhelming proof on the contrary, Freeman died satisfied of their efficacy. He even spent the final years of his life monitoring down and corresponding together with his lobotomy sufferers, pondering he’d discovered “proof” of his success. How may he have been so unsuitable?

Whereas I’m not going to ask if you’ve ever fallen into an Oedipus lure (as for those who would know!!!), we would love to listen to your reactions to this dialog. Share your responses to the prompts beneath within the feedback, or use them to begin your personal dialog offline. Let’s maintain the dialog going.



1- In recounting the story of Freeman, McArdle says, “One of many issues that comes out of a lobotomy is a unique thought about knowledgeable consent.” What does she imply? Have been there “glad prospects?” To what extent ought to we take into account Freeman an entrepreneur?


2- McArdle cautions listeners, “…we must always keep in mind that it’s simple to cross judgment once we have options.” She additionally factors to the persevering with mysterious nature of well being care. (Keep in mind Semmelweis and the midwives!) Whereas all that is true, we would nonetheless need to take into account safeguards to keep away from the Oedipus lure. What may such safeguards appear like? Are they extra internally or externally oriented?


3- Roberts modifications course to contemplate the Oedipus lure because it pertains to politicians. How typically have politicians (or maybe army leaders) made choices that in the event that they reconsidered they may not love with? Did Truman ever (publicly) remorse dropping the atomic bomb, for instance? Maybe in lots of related circumstances, the foregone different is equally unthinkable. Nonetheless. are you able to reply Roberts’ problem and consider a significant such occasion that was later- once more publicly- regretted?


4-McArdle says that avoiding or getting out of the Oedipus lure is tough as a result of the individuals who can resist that pull and see the factor that’s true, even when it’ll be socially pricey for them and psychologically pricey for all the folks round them, have a tendency not to be nice folks. Why do you suppose that is? Roberts wonders about different dissenters, troublemakers, and contrarians- all pejorative phrases. To what extent do those that shatter the established order are typically outsiders?


5- What’s unsuitable with “Following the Science,” based on McArdle and Roberts? To what extent do you agree that the upper the stakes, the much less doubtless persons are to comply with the consensus? Clarify.



Supply hyperlink