Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Can You Pick Up My Suicide Pills" By Beth Capriotti- Bias

Beth Capriotti, a writer for the Philadelphia Magazine, visited Boston in 2012 and learned about the "Death with Dignity" bill being placed in the ballot that November. The Death with Dignity Act allows patients who have approximately six months to live due to medical reasons, to be prescribed a lethal drug in which they can self administer and end their life. The patient must be acting voluntarily, have the ability to make decisions, and must have two witnesses present when the drug is prescribed, but not necessarily when the drug is administered. Capriotti has a biased opinion on this form of suicide, and voices her opinions, showing her bias, in her article.

One form of cognitive bias that Capriotti uses in the article is functional fixedness, or the limitation of an object or ideas and to only view your ideas. Capriotti sees "the role of the physician has been to provide care appropriate for the patient, not to assist in the manner of their death." She has known the idea of doctor to save someone's life. Instead, doctors would be handing over the medicine to end one's life. She doesn't change her views, or see that the world has evolved and trends have changed. She has her views, and will not let that idea go, which can be classified as functional fixedness, a form of cognitive biases.

The ostrich effect, the failure to see the negative outcome to a situation, is another form of cognitive biases used in Capriotti's article. Capriotti talks about how doctor's administering this lethal drug is suicide, homicide, murder. She says its wrong, and that doctors should be saving lives, not ending them. But these people are already dying, they know that their time is limited. They want to be able to die while they're still themselves, not someone plagued by symptoms, intoxicated by medicines, incapable of making decisions. They want to die with dignity, while they're still themselves. Capriotti only sees the side where people are killing themselves, taking their lives with the help of their physician, instead of seeing a positive side, that people are going they way they want. Her ability to only see a negative side, allows Capriotti's article to contain the ostrich effect, a form of cognitive biases.

Capritotti also displays the use of the pessimism bias, or the idea that actions will always result in a negative outcome. She often talks about how negative the possession of this lethal drug can be, and assumes the worst of the patients who plan to take it. She believes those who "suffer financial uncertainty might see this as an opportunity to alleviate burdensome financial obligations of loved ones." Or that a family member eyeing a big inheritance will convince them that the drug is the best option, when it may not be. Maybe the patient will "slip it in hubby’s coffee," says Capriotti. The author assumes the worst from people, and expects a negative outcome to the use of the drug. She believes it will be and issue for the patient, and maybe even the patients family and friends. Capriotti's inability to see a positive outcome, and only see the negative side of things, is an example of pessimism bias in the article.

"Death with Dignity," an act that allows patients with a terminal illness to be prescribed a lethal self-injected drug to end their life on their own terms. This topic creates lots of debate, and Beth Capriotti wrote hers for the Philadelphia Magazine. Her article used different forms of bias in it, including the ostrich effect, the pessimism bias, and functional fixedness. We all have our own opinions on topics, and Capriotti voiced hers with different types of bias.

No comments:

Post a Comment