By a "decision filter", I mean a method of selecting alternative therapies to use from among the possibilities. The characteristics of your decision filter determine how well you are able to select the most promising and appropriate alternative therapies for you. The aim of this presentation is to explore the structure and operating characteristics of a "rational" decision filter which leads to making good decisions.
The diagram in this slide will be the basis for the next several slides so it is well to take a moment to understand it.
The black circles each represent a different alternative therapy. The group of circles to the left of the decision filter box represent the universe of possible alternative therapies, while the smaller group of circles to the right of the decision filter box represent the therapies your decision filter selected.
The size of the circles represent the promise of the corresponding therapy. Because, as I explained at the outset, I believe that most alternative therapies are relatively less promising, and because I also think that the most promising therapies may not be the ones most heavily promoted or talked about, I have represented more promising therapies by smaller circles, and less promising therapies by larger circles. The few small dots in the left group are the therapies the ideal filter would select. Obviously the filter depicted here didn't do a very good job at finding the best therapies!
The promise of a therapy is the likelihood that it will give you a significant benefit if you decide to use it. Because everyone is different, the promise of a therapy varies from one person to another. As a simple example, a therapy may be known to be particularly promising in brain tumors but not at all promising in colon cancer. What you consider to be a benefit can also vary depending on the type of therapy you are considering. If you are using acupuncture to relieve pain and stress, you are not necessarily looking for the therapy to cure the cancer. Perhaps as a result of my encounter with an extremely deadly cancer with poor odds, I tend to assume improving the odds of survival is the primary goal, but other possibilities are perfectly reasonable.
The next three slides will consider the effect of your general level of skepticism on the operation of the filter through the concept of a cutoff value. (oh by the way, if you haven't guessed by this point - yes, I am an engineer!)