Drops from the Fire Hose – September 25, 2012 – Wall Street Journal

How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us — Wall Street Journal

When there is a plane crash in the U.S., even a minor one, it makes headlines. There is a thorough federal investigation, and the tragedy often yields important lessons for the aviation industry. Pilots and airlines thus learn how to do their jobs more safely.

The world of American medicine is far deadlier: Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the world at large, and the medical community rarely learns from them. The same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, and patients are left in the dark about which hospitals have significantly better (or worse) safety records than their peers.

Peer Power, from Potholes to Patents — Wall Street Journal

In all these efforts you can see the emergence of a new political philosophy. It takes seriously Hayek’s insight about the power of decentralized systems to outperform top-heavy bureaucracies, but it also believes that innovation and progress can come from forms of collaboration beyond the market. I like to call the members of this movement “the peer progressives.”

Change in GMAT Equation: Chinese Flock to the Test — Wall Street Journal

One in five people who took the GMAT last year was from China, according to a new report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the business-school entrance exam globally. The number of tests taken by Chinese citizens rose 45% from last year, to 58,196.

How to Beat the Odds at Judging Risk — Wall Street Journal

Just by becoming aware of our tendency to be overconfident or underconfident in our estimates, we can go a long way toward correcting for our most common errors. Doctors, for instance, could provide numerical estimates of probability when making diagnoses and then get data about which ones turned out to be right. As for the rest of us, we could estimate the likelihood of various events in a given week, record our estimates in numerical terms, review them the next week and thus measure our risk intelligence in everyday life. A similar technique is used by many successful gamblers: They keep accurate and detailed records of their earnings and their losses and regularly review their strategies in order to learn from their mistakes.

No Breakfast Hurts Girls’ Focus Most — Wall Street Journal

Compared with those who ate breakfast, students who skipped the morning meal had 7% slower power of attention, a measure of their ability to focus and avoid distraction. They also detected 7% fewer targets on target-detection tasks and correctly identified 9% fewer pictures on a picture-recognition test at a 9% slower speed than students who ate breakfast. Variability in response time, an indication of focusing consistency, was 10% more erratic in those who missed breakfast. Girls without breakfast were significantly more disrupted in their ability to focus than boys who didn’t have breakfast, results showed.

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