Category Blindness

This article grabbed me. It describe a dreadful condition that affects all those people born of mothers and then over-educated: category blindness.

The article describes the experiences of adults developing Type 1 diabetes but getting a diagnosis for Type 2. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different conditions. Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes. It often begins in childhood, though is increasingly found in adults. When adults get it they are often misdiagnosed as having Type 2, and the treatment they receive is the not the one they need. Despite the failure of the treatment to alleviate their symptoms, it goes on because it’s the correct treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

The over-education I believe these physicians received came after they left school. They probably saw lots of diabetes patients, mostly with Type 2, and so developed a fine diagnostic sense for this disease. By itself, that  diagnostic ability would be useful. But it seems to engender the belief that because they are good at making the diagnosis, the diagnosis is good. That’s over-learning. And the result is that other possibilities–such as there being a class or adults with newly diagnosed diabetes who are Type 1–are ignored.

The lesson for designers and diagnosticians of all types: Allow your intuition for the unknown to have a say.




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