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Rise of the Medical Expertocracy (Wall Street Journal)

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Should people be taking Vitamin D? Should women under 50 get routine mammograms or healthy men be screened for prostate cancer? Democrats and Republicans, with the advice of experts and piles of data, would like to answer those questions and more for you. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of experts, decided women under 50 should no longer undergo routine mammograms despite the estimate that as many as 12,000 lives could be saved. A statistician on the panel said the decision – according to the numbers – was a “no brainer.” Standing in the way of the politicians’ pursuit is the nagging reality that patients do not all react in the same way when decisions on anything to do with health are made for them.