[Editor’s note: I’ve truncated this post because it was picked up by Slate for their Medical Examiner column. Check it out over there & feel free to comment there and here! -GH]
A year ago, U.K. officials released convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi to Libya on humanitarian grounds, based on a prediction that he had only three months to live. Karol Sikora, the British cancer expert on whose opinion the decision was based, recently owned up to his miscalculation to a London paper: “There was always a chance he could live for ten years, twenty years…But it’s very unusual.” The decision to release al-Megrahi was vilified by victims’ families, and the issue was placed on a short list of U.S. concerns in a recent meeting between President Obama and new British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Which raises the obvious question: How did Dr. Sikora get it so wrong?
To find out, head on over to Slate and read the whole article called “The Worst Fortune Tellers: Why doctors are so bad at predicting how long their patients will live.”