Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Some Gift Recommendations


I know. This does not allow for response times delivery times, but I procrastinate. Besides, if not for late presents, it would all be over too quickly. 🙂

We have two sponsors, which means I do receive some money from having them sponsor the EMS Blogs blog network.

Limmer Creative Learning Center, which I am not familiar with, but have heard good things about.

Informed’s EMS (and fire and police and nursing and . . . ) Field Guide Applications, which I have used and like.

Not sponsored recommendations –

Josh Knapp of EMS Office Hours has the side business of WANTYNU, when he is not running calls. He makes oxygen wrenches that fit more conveniently in a pocket than the typical oxygen wrench, which tends to jab you in places you don’t want to be jabbed – at least not on a call. These also seem to last longer.

I am more of a book person, so I will recommend a few books that are EMS and a few that are about general decision making, not just related to EMS, but definitely applicable to EMS.

Image credit.

Our own EMS Blogs author, Russ Reina, wrote Moments in the Death of a Flesh Mechanic You can get his book through the sidebar of his blog at EMS Outside Agitator.

Kelly Grayson wrote En Route – Life, Death, and Everything in Between, which you can get through the sidebar of his blog at A Day in the Life of an Ambulance Driver. If you have read his blog, you will love his book.

Peter Canning wrote Paramedic: On the front lines of medicine which is one of my favorite books, because I was at the same point in my career, also a second career, at the time I read it. He had a similar experience with an eclamptic patient a week, or two, after the baby was born – which was also not what I remembered from medic school about eclampsia. We were taught that eclampsia = pregnancy, but our patients did not go to the same paramedic schools we did. You can get his books through the sidebar of his blog at Street Watch: Notes of a Paramedic.

In the not necessarily medicine category are –

Thinking Fast and Slow, which just came out, by Daniel Kahneman. He is one of the originators of behavioral economics and won a Nobel Prize for it. Behavioral economics is about studying why we make irrational decisions so often and how to make better decisions. We do not want to be making bad medical decisions. Our patients’ lives depend on the quality of our decisions. NY Times Book Review.


Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. The title gives a lot away, but actually leaves a lot to cover. As she explains in the video, there is a lot about being wrong that we are not aware of. When our decisions can result in death or disability, we need to better understand what we can do to make better decisions.

What if everything you thought about being wrong was wrong?


Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality are by Daniel Ariely. He began thinking about decisions when he was being treated for burns over most of his body during his military service.

Which hurts more – pulling a bandage off quickly or pulling a bandage off slowly?

Why is one more painful?

That video does not appear to be available any more, but this is a similar topic from the book.


Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb. He is probably best known for his sequel to this, The Black Swan, which described the financial problems that others began to notice in 2007 and 2008 – except he wrote the book in 2006 – when everyone was saying there was no problem. This book is about how we are easily fooled by thinking that random events behave according to some kind of predictable pattern. Some things do follow patterns and are predictable. Some things only appear to be predictable.



From here on, added 12-27-2018 – Unfortunately, the quality of Taleb’s books decreases with each new book, while the reliance on logical fallacies increases. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007) is worth reading, but not as good as Fooled by Randomness. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012) is not as good as The Black Swan. Finally, with Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (2018), Taleb far seems to be more obsessed with attacking, perhaps even physically, those who do not agree with him. Taleb seems to be suggesting that punching someone in the face is the ultimate response to a difference of opinion. the truth is that punching someone in the faces, or threatening to, is an admission that one’s argument has failed. The argument is not necessarily wrong, but the person making the argument has failed at communicating the argument in an effective way.

An irony is that Pinker makes some of Taleb’s points about the excesses of regulation more clearly than Taleb does. Pinker avoids the use of logical fallacies, which too often seem essential to Taleb in making the same points.

The prohibition of dodgeball represents the overshooting of yet another successful campaign against violence, the century-long movement to prevent the abuse and neglect of children. It reminds us of how a civilizing offensive can leave a culture with a legacy of puzzling customs, peccadilloes, and taboos. The code of etiquette bequeathed by this and the other Rights Revolutions is pervasive enough to have acquired a name. We call it political correctness.

But what about Taleb’s criticism of Pinker for predicting that war cannot happen any more?

The truth is, I don’t know what will happen across the entire world in the coming decades, and neither does anyone else. Not everyone, though, shares my reticence. A Web search for the text string “the coming war” returns two million hits, with completions like “with Islam,” “with Iran,” “with China,” “with Russia,” “in Pakistan,” “between Iran and Israel,” “between India and Pakistan,” “against Saudi Arabia,” “on Venezuela,” “in America,” “within the West,” “for Earth’s resources,” “over climate,” “for water,” and “with Japan” (the last dating from 1991, which you would think would make everyone a bit more humble about this kind of thing). Books with titles like The Clash of Civilizations, World on Fire, World War IV, and (my favorite) We Are Doomed boast a similar confidence.
Who knows? Maybe they’re right. My aim in the rest of this chapter is to point out that maybe they’re wrong.


Again, Pinker seems to make Taleb’s point that we cannot predict that war cannot happen more effectively than Taleb does, so why does Taleb claim to be disagreeing with Pinker? The excerpts are from Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature 2011). Taleb’s criticism is repeated throughout Skin in the Game and apparently,

Read and Fooled by Randomness (2001) and The Black Swan (2007), then stop, unless you feel a need for the drama of reality TV.