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View Diary: Bill Maher rips into the GOP's anti-intellectuals with advanced degrees (116 comments)

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  •  Several years ago I actually had an argument (23+ / 0-)

    about politics with a wingnut neurosurgeon, and it stunned me how such a supposedly intelligent, educated and accomplished person could be so damned stupid, calling Obama a Kenyan-born Israel and US-hating Muslim socialist who was trying to nationalize our medical system (as if such a miracle were likely any time soon or that Obama was the socialist I wish he were!).

    And then I realized that apart from being a supposedly intelligent, educated and accomplished neurosurgeon, he was also an otherwise weak-minded man brainwashed by Fox News and fanatically loyal to and/or in thrall to certain causes and beliefs, such as the inherent and infallible righteousness of Israel and everything it does, the inherent and infallible righteousness of "creators" vs. "takers" (he was clearly worried about how his income might be affected after Obamacare was implemented), and, I believe, clear-cut racism, against not only black people, but Arabs and Muslims.

    And THIS is what makes otherwise smart people so blindingly stupid, some combination of fanaticism, self-interest, fear and bigotry--and the inability and/or willingness to rock the boat you're on for fear of being kicked off it--so add cowardice to the list as well. Plus insanity. Smart people can be nuts.

    Never confuse intelligence with either character or sanity.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:21:07 AM PDT

    •  I bet it's no accident that these are mostly (14+ / 0-)

      surgeons who exhibit this idiocy.  Most of what they do is skilled labor, but lacks the higher-level diagnostic thinking that you see among doctors of internal medicine and other disciplines.  Some doctors call them glorified plumbers, which is probably an overstatement based on a kernel of truth.

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:35:50 AM PDT

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      •  You clearly have to be intelligent to be (7+ / 0-)

        a doctor. But you don't have to be smart, at least about much beyond your profession. In fact it's such a demanding and specialized field that it's kind of hard to be smart about anything but it.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:51:18 AM PDT

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        •  Most doctors are not trained to think or analyze. (5+ / 0-)

          Most are trained as technicians to memorize lists of symptoms, recall the appropriate disease and associated drugs.  Science requires curiousity and out-of-the-box thinking, but medicine?  Not so much.  Ask a scientist what he/she thinks of a new MD in the lab. (Not much good, especially about the big-ego-little-curiousity types.) It really is a different way of thinking.

          •  Sounds about right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Plus, doctors are conditioned to engage in defensive, CYA thinking, for fear of lawsuits, professional inquiries, peer criticism or rejection, etc. They basically are trained to follow the rules and not take chances, and not, ironically, to get the best possible outcomes with the most promising or appropriate course of treatment. Plus, all that pressure and incentive from hospital administrators, insurers, drugs and equipment makers, etc. And the non-curious thing.

            "The operation was a success, but the patient died" is not, unfortunately, just a cruel joke, but a sad reality of modern medicine.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:56:58 AM PDT

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          •  That's why veterinarians may be better thinkers (4+ / 0-)
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            sharman, hannah, Yo Bubba, kuvasz

            Than people doctors - more complex day to day working life.  Not to insult human-centric doctors, but having been able to compare students going through med school to students going through vet school, the vet students have to do a lot more creative thinking on their feet, mostly due to having patients who cannot speak and who do not react the same way the previous patient reacted to treatment or how the next patient will react to treatment.  Even if all 3 patients are dogs.  

            Every human patient is different, but at least we are all the same species and you can discuss treatment and meds and side effects with your doctor.  Doctors get input, so they can adjust accordingly - may not require a lot of creative thinking every single time, although there are always aberrations, of course.  

            Can't do that with cats, dogs, parrots, horses, turtles, goats, pandas, whales, gazelles, tigers, bears, tortoises, cows, sheep, pigs, pelicans... Not only species, but varying breeds within species can have wildly different reactions.  My vet used to tell me that what worked for 70% of her patients was her "normal" - it was the other 30% that kept her thinking and digging and trying out of the box stuff.  My son and daughter in law say the same thing.  Almost every patient (a sick one, not just somebody coming for shots) is an aberration.  

            I know a lot more creative thinkers among vets than I do among doctors, but that's just me - admittedly, in recent years I have gotten to know far more vets than I have doctors and I haven't hung around with students in med school or vet school since 2006.  I find vets less rigid in their thinking and also more willing to color outside the lines in working with pet owners, doctors less so.  

            "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

            by Ricochet67 on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:55:03 AM PDT

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        •  No kidding (0+ / 0-)

          I can't imagine how anyone can keep up with all the new information in medicine and other fields. New kinds of imaging, less invasive surgery techniques, and 3-D printing, for instance.

        •  As someone who worked in medical IT (1+ / 0-)
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          This is what I think happens as well.  Their minds are so crammed full of the medical knowledge they need to work that there's no room for anything else.

          Like the guy who had to be reminded every two weeks that he had to log out of the X-Ray viewing program at his floating desk to use it at his permanent desk, because of the licenses.  Or the surgeon who forgot his own Apple password and demanded that we "look it up" for him.  (That was his personal iPhone.)  Or the sweet little nurse whose laptop couldn't get online every few days because she was accidentally hitting the wireless switch on the front.

          The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

          by catwho on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 05:55:33 PM PDT

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      •  The old joke... (3+ / 0-)
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        88kathy, happymisanthropy, TKO333

        The specialist: knows everything, does nothing.
        The surgeon: knows nothing, does everything.
        The psychiatrist: knows nothing, does nothing.
        The pathologist: knows everything, does everything. But you don't want to him to see you.

    •  I knew a guy with a PhD in math (2+ / 0-)
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      sharman, MrJersey

      that was similar - had some high level job as an actuary, but believed everything on Fox News as the truth and fair & balanced.   Then, when a more moderate Republican said that even he admitted that Fox was biased, this PhD came back and said, maybe they are, but all the other networks are far more biased the other way...


      "I'm not a member of an organized political party - I'm a Democrat." Will Rogers

      by newjeffct on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:44:45 AM PDT

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    •  There was an excellent post (1+ / 0-)
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      at Stonekettle Station recently, about how the author's ex-intelligence friends seem to have turned off their brains when they retired and started listening to Fox News. Highly worthy...


      He's put up a couple decent ones since then, too.

    •  Maybe there's only so much room in there. (1+ / 0-)
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      Organic chemistry does take up a lot of brain.

      give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

      by 88kathy on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 12:15:14 PM PDT

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    •  intelligence and wisdom need not go hand (2+ / 0-)
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      marina, JosephK74

      in hand. one of the key elements of wisdom is the ability to recognize one's own fallibility. humans, however, both intelligent and otherwise, are highly statistical analysts of their experiences -- and the experience of highly intelligent people is that they are almost always correct in their predictions and explanation of what is going on around them. this makes it very difficult for them to stop when they are far, far down a rathole of broken epistemology, and realize and accept that they've been going the wrong way for a long, long time, and revise their understanding.

      and of course, you are correct that factors such a social pressure, self-interest, and various acquired mythologies and superstitions can afflict the intelligent just as they afflict everyone else.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 03:56:52 PM PDT

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