The passage below is from Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

The physician who prescribes the unusual treatment faces a substantial risk of regret, blame, and perhaps litigation. In hindsight, it will be easier to imagine the normal choice; the abnormal choice will be easy to undo. True, a good outcome will contribute to the reputation of the physician who dared, but the potential benefit is smaller than the potential cost because success is generally a more normal outcome than is failure.

In the bold faced part, I think, there seems to be a logical contradiction. What I want to ask is that if the chances of a successful outcome is bigger than a failed one, how come the potential benefit is smaller than the potential cost?

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    It's 'apples and oranges,' as they say in Algebra. The 'successful outcome,' and 'failure' and the normal outcome which is mentioned is about the patient. But most of the subject under discussion is about the doctor's/ physician's reputation and promotion. 'Substantial risk,' 'reputation,' 'potential cost' all refer to the doctor. – Hugh Jul 13 at 3:36
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    What he is saying is the benefit of a good outcome is small because a good outcome is what normally happens. The cost of a bad outcome will be large simply because it's unusual and more noteworthy. – Andrew Leach Jul 13 at 10:14
  • Thanks a lot, Andrew Leach. I got the absolute picture. – morti Jul 13 at 23:36

I don't see the contradiction. Kahneman is saying that failure is an abnormal outcome and will draw more opprobrium than could be balanced by any good outcome.

My own conclusion is not informed by any grammatical consideration, and I do not see any relevance of grammar.

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