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Are engineers smarter than doctors? It's all about the diagnosis.

Jan. 18, 2017
Accepting a decision without the data to back it can lead to an improper diagnosis or solution.

I woke up one morning, and something was out of whack with me physically. My body didn't want to move. Something was wrong, and the main symptoms were joint pain, stiffness and weakness. Alone in a hotel, 1,800 miles from home, it took me 30 minutes to get out of bed. With a lot of fear and worry, I went to the doctor.

At the initial doctor visit, the doctor carefully listened, took some notes, some incorrect, and promptly ignored my suggestions. That started the caution light flashing because as an engineer, it is very important to listen to your customers.

The doctor had no diagnosis, but made a guess and sent me to a specialist. Sometimes a guess is fine, but, if guessing, an engineer would likely consider performing a design of experiment or, at a minimum, take the time to do a little more research to learn more—the proactive engineer. The specialist made an educated guess on my diagnosis—arthritis— and prescribed a toxin. Literally, if taken every day, it's toxic.

To learn more, read "Engineers are smarter than doctors" from Control Design.

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