Friday, February 29, 2008

Professors and Physicians

The ever-present temptation to be arrogant with opinions:

So last night in my creative writing class the conversation drifted to the exciting primary contest between Clinton and Obama. A professor who was taking the class punctuated his input with, "Either would be better than our current president who is both a fool and evil. Electing him twice is proof of the absolute idiocy of voters!" He said this with a very self-assured tone, as if that is the final word on the subject and any reasonable person must concur.

I bit my tongue rather than stir up an argument. While Bush's presidency has been far from ideal, I voted for him twice and I still think I made the right decision today. I voted based on my own political values, which are likely different from this professor's, but are not necessarily less valid or less well-reasoned. I felt irritated that this man in a room full of well-educated adults he barely knew could declare most Americans idiots and his ideas superior to everyone else's. As I watched this older gentlemen who I believe was a professor in the English department, I thought about him spending all day teaching young people about a subject which he knows well and they do not. It is understandable this experience could leave him with the impression that he is far wiser than the average person and everyone is in desperate need of him to teach them what is true.

Of course, this led me to consider my own experience. As a physician I am always telling people things about their bodies that they didn't know. Having unequal knowledge in a narrow field has a tendency to make us over-estimate our own intelligence and the need of others to hear our opinions. It made me think about this blog. I want the controversial opinions here to be expressed humbly and in the spirit of free dialogue, but is that the case? I wonder if I am just another blogger on a political soap box acting as if I understand the world better than anyone else.

Recently at dinner with my parents I confidently said that I couldn't understand how anyone could vote for Mitt Romney who I declared to be obviously nothing but a pretty face and a charlatan. My parents kindly informed me that they had both voted for Romney and went on to explain quite well that on the issues that were important to them he was the best candidate. While their political priorities are different from mine, they made a very intelligent choice based on their own priorities. I felt embarrassed.

As the race for president continues I promise I will really try to be more humble and open to disagreement as I express my opinions both in this blog and privately.


JD said...

I should clarify that the two photos were found by an image search. I don't even know their names, and certainly am not implying any arrogance by these individuals. I wanted to display generic photos of professors and doctors.

ctfsh42 said...

Howdy Doc
How are things your way. Good I hope.Are you still in ER?
I needed you Sat a week ago. I came to see you with my sats running about 57. I
had been feeling bad and I had a molar that had an abcess. It didnt hurt tho.I
had seen the Dentist and was taking Keflex and had appt with Oral Surgeon.Wife
and Grand daughter had that flu bug or something. Sat a week ago I felt bad and
slept all day. Wife says I got up then fell back on the bed. Life saving crew
came and resusitated me twice they say.I dont remember much untill mon or
tuesday.I came to my senses in the ICU where these nice Nurses where poking and
proding me to death. I lost 25lbs and I think that was my weight of blood lost
to the lab. Blood pressure up and down. 200/110 then 140/48. Was on Bipap . Was
in C100 ICU for 4 or 5 days then moved me to ICU stepdown. I was their for 3
days then I got out. Kept old Doc Mosher And Blackwelder hopping. Lung Doc Shiek
Ask How much you smoke. I told him 3 packs a day. He said I was an Idiot. HA HA
hA. I agreed and ask Him for a Smoke. lol. I seen a lot of interns. I must be a
good Teaching Tool. Or What does it take to kill an old grisly catfish . lol.
They said I had Septicima but my Heart was still good but CAT says my Lungs
are shot but no PE. Living in the sats of mids 80's to 90. This one was and is
still ruff. May get me yet.
Enough bout me. How is your Family? How is that lil one coming along? I think
of you often and still read your gridbook blog. You are a Good Servent to GOD
and may HE Bless you and your family.
It was a pleasure to have you as a Doctor but more as a Friend.
With the Love of Christ

tom said...

JD, I struggle with this kind of thing a lot. I want to stay rooted in community with folks who aren't making knowledge their profession, so as to remember that the kind of knowledge I'm pursuing is just a particular kind.

Here is a good article about the gap between academics and reality