How We Choose to Error


I was having a discussion with one of my parents this week about how I make my decisions on whether or I not I want to foster or adopt another child.  It all comes back to the two types of regrets I can foresee having when I am older.  I imagine I will have mistake both of actions taken and actions I refused to take.  It must be growing up with a physics teacher.  I think of Type 1 and Type 2 errors.
Type 1 errors in science are when the experiment detects a relationship that does not actually exist.  Type 1 errors are the false positives.   In the decision to adopt, this would mean we adopted and or fostered another child when we should not have.  It would mean we took action when we should not have done so, an error of action.
We all make mistakes in the actions we choose to take.  Sometimes the actions themselves are not even the problem.  It is just the outcomes that lead us to regret taking them.  I think of the nice woman a couple of years ago who attempted to intervene when she saw me dragging my screaming daughter out of Walmart.  She worried I was abducting her, and she felt foolish after insisting on questioning me, her and my son.  I told her as I handed over my driver’s license that I applauded her for being careful.  I hope if my kids ever need it, there is somebody like her to help them.  Still, she said she was so embarrassed, and I am left hoping she never regrets stopping us.  
The second type of error or type II error is when the experiment fails to make the connection it should have made.  In our case, the error would be one of failing to act, failing to adopt or foster when our family would have benefited from the added soul(s) at the dinner table.  I think of these as errors of omission. 
I try to picture myself at 60 or 70, and I imagine looking back.  As I ask myself to ponder the worst-case scenarios, I come back to assuming we make a mistake.  With which would it be easier to live, knowing we could have helped another child in need or knowledge we over reached and are now in a less comfortable way of life?
When I think this way, I come back to my motto of “If you never fail, you never pushed your limits and almost certainly could have done more.”  I have been given a lot in my life, and I would like to think I have done as much as I possibly could have.  I find I am far more predisposed to live with the type II errors.  Let any who would comment say he lived foolishly and naïvely rather than lazily.
Continue on to next page for thoughts from a seminar on traumatic brains injuries and our 9th wedding anniversary (not related, I promise)
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As a side note, I was in a seminar today on brain injuries, and two parts stood out to me.  The first is two thirds of our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming back with traumatic brain injuries with most of them being the “mild” traumatic brain injuries.  This is interesting to me as the “mild” traumatic brain injuries tend to affect the transmission of signals through the nervous system, and so many of their symptoms match MS symptoms.  Even the delayed onset (for months or even years) can leave them not knowing from day to day when they will experience the impact of previous injuries.  I am so sorry for their injuries.  I would not wish the invisible injuries on any one.
The second part of the seminar that fascinated me was a question from a concerned coworker in the audience.  He was managing a vet, and he wanted to know if there was documentation of a traumatic brain injury ever completely changing a victim’s personality.  The presenter gave the example of Phineas Gage who had a steel pipe shoved through his front lobe and lived but was rumored to develop a host of symptoms typically thought to involve the frontal lobe (lack of self control, inhibition, etc.).  She pointed out the case is mostly psychology lore at this point though as nobody cared about his personality before the incident.   What got me about the question was the presumption we know somebody’s personality.  Is it always remembering somebody’s birthday, being rude or polite, empathetic vs. uncaring, anal vs. lax, etc.?  What is a personality that we think we can quantify it to say it completely changed?  I know J says I have changed, but am I fundamentally different than I was?  
I hope not.
J and I celebrated our 9th anniversary this week.  It’s crazy how time flies.  J, knows me and my sweet tooth very well.  She had a local bakery make me pina colada cupcakes complete with rum!  Yummy!
I gave her a picture frame with space for three pictures above the words, “Live, Love, Laugh.”  In the space for the first picture I put words I have put with every anniversary,
“Stay with me
The best is yet to be
This I believe”
The second picture spot has the photo at the top of this post, and the last spot is the picture at the bottom.  
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