I was fruitlessly pondering one of my favorite dead horses, the question whether completing college really indicates added skills or just serves to select a certain class of people. Steve Sailer does an excellent job on this question, so I really don't need to ponder it.....
Nevertheless, I kept on pondering, trying to separate out the few disciplines where added training really matters: essentially engineering and medical fields. Why does training really matter in those areas? Why is it important to have all the details right, and to get plenty of practice? Because real lives depend on skill in these areas. A badly done surgery can kill the patient, and a badly planned building can collapse.
Then I realized something worth recording.
In America, how many people are killed by bad medical practice? By most counts, about 100,000 per year. How many people are killed by badly planned buildings? Maybe a dozen? The only example I can remember is the Crown Plaza in KC, where a badly built skywalk collapsed twenty years ago and killed 100 or so. And in that case it wasn't the engineering as such; the problem was a contractor who cut corners, decided to use smaller bolts than specified.
Why don't politicians get hot and bothered about a licensed profession that kills 100,000 people? This is twice the death toll of auto accidents, and in the same range as smoking.
Conclusion: Engineers are one hell of a lot more serious about the Hippocratic Oath than doctors are.
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Newt tried briefly to stir up some activity on this front, but didn't get anywhere. What's wrong? I don't know.
Later: Well, I spoke too soon. CBS's 60 Minutes focused on this problem tonight! Admittedly they were dealing with one specific drug, but they also covered the broader scandal of medical mistakes.