Picking a Derby winner and making a diagnosis have much in common. The inspirational punter relies on "having a feeling" or a pin stabbed at a race card. Some doctors use similar methods for diagnosis. They and the punters are overgenerous in remembrance of success; there is always a good excuse for the horse or diagnosis that was left at the start. But the racing form of a horse can be calibrated, and random choice be transmuted to calculated probability. The handicapper, like the doctor, seeks discriminative information to predict the order in which the runners should pass the winning post. Unlike the doctor, the handicapper then proceeds to eliminate discrimination to attempt a dead heat for the field. We are said to be a nation of gamblers, and if mathematical methods can be invoked for games of chance there is no reason why the nation's doctors should not readily apply mathematics to the serious business of the nation's diseases.

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