The Right Diagnosis

Nanyuki and the North

When I hit my snooze button in the morning, my diagnosis of the problem would seem to be that I am exactly nine minutes short of sleep. In nine minute’s time, I will wake up to the next alarm and be refreshed.

When my hygienist tells me, “You should floss more. You will get cavities there if you don’t,” her de facto diagnosis of the problem is that I don’t have adequate information. If I knew that flossing prevented cavities, I would certainly do it.

Neither of these hypothetical diagnoses is especially plausible. It isn’t especially likely I am evaluating the quantity of sleep I am lacking, nor is it probable that the hygienist thinks I am lacking information about how dental hygiene works. However, in both cases, we have engaged in an intervention to treat the problem. A more accurate diagnosis of the problem in the first place (You…

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