"If only we had looked at the blood under a microscope we would have immediately seen the problem."The team had relied on tests that produced results that were reported on paper. They had moved away from direct observation to indirect reportage. They never looked at the thing in front of them. I used to work with a brilliant software engineer who, at the end of his day, would check the online weather sites for what it was like outside. He sat next to a window. I could not sway him to trust his direct observation.
Over the years I see more and more examples of reliance on indirect reportage or blind trust in numbers. People who do not stop to judge the accuracy of a calculation, but instead simply copy and paste it, and move on. They don't even check that the value's magnitude seems right. I don't understand how one can accept a value without needing to know if it fits with your expectations. Is the gist of it right?
I was listening to an interview with Maura O'Connor on Science for the People podcast on the occasion of her new book Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World. In the interview she talks about how direct observation and experience strengthens memory and the role the hippocampus plays in this. For example, relying on turn-by-turn directions from your navigation device will not only remove you from the engagement with & enjoyment of your journey, but will prevent you from actually remembering it too. I think this book has moved to the top of my reading list.
Lastly, the MIT Technology Review has a good article about spoofing. Ships in the port of Shanghai seem to move around without regard to physics let alone basic seamanship. Well, on the automatic identification system (AIS) displays that is. Like Gregory House's diagnostician team found so did the captain in the story
"Eventually, mystified, the captain picked up his binoculars and scanned the dockside. The other ship had been stationary at the dock the entire time."