Does Anyone Else Besides
Me Think These Guys Aren’t Smart?
To me, the most amazing thing about the Trump phenomenon is
the popularity of a man who seems not very bright. Forget for a moment
the stupid things he says about women, Muslims and the Klan (if you can). How
about his perseveration? He says everything three times. Why is that? Does he
think the crowd too dense to have heard him the first time? Does he think his
words too obtuse? Are his phrases too Byzantine? Please. How about he isn’t very smart and just likes to hear himself rant.
I am sure that Mr. Trump is a mean negotiator. He is
according to him. I am not sure how that explains the bankruptcies. He seems to
relish mocking people including the disabled and what person of intelligence
would wear his hair like that? A comb over? Really?
I think the secret to Donald Trump is that he really isn’t
all that bright. What’s even more interesting is that the rest of the GOP field
isn’t either, with the exception of Ted Cruz who is obviously brilliant but
warped in his approach to interpersonal decorum. He doesn’t believe in it,
making him and Mr. Trump cut from similar cloth in that regard.
When has it become fashionable to be so intellectually
I think the answer is that bright people stay away from
politics and stick to either making money or doing something of a far more
rewarding nature than begging for approval and campaign contributions. (Of
course, Mr. Trump is supposed to be very rich, but no one has seen his tax
returns and the IRS is still examining the latest trove, so who knows?)
I have been impressed that this influx of not terribly
bright people has infected medicine as well. Doctors don’t take histories or do
physical exams thinking that an MRI is a substitute for human interaction. When
I was carted into Memorial Hermann’s ER in December of 2014 in post-operative
agony, the first test I had was an abdominal CT scan. The history and physical
came next and were not done by a physician. Intellectual curiosity is hard to
find among caregivers.
Not too long ago, a dentist at the clinic where I was
employed showed me a Panorex film of a young boy with fine teeth but two round
opacities behind his ears, one behind each looking similar, symmetrical and
about a centimeter across. I examined the child and found nothing despite these
opacities having appeared on his dental exam a few weeks before, but he had no
prior x-rays at our clinic. We had no idea how long the opacities had been
sent copies of the x-rays by email to two colleagues in the field and neither
could identify what these white shadows represented.
I asked the x-ray technologist if she could take a set of
skull films of the boy for me. She could. She did. That’s when we saw the coin
up his nose that had projected laterally on the tomographic Panorex exposure.
He had been being treated for allergic rhinitis for 4 years.
I then asked the child if he had put a coin up his nose and
he had, years before. Now kids do crazy things and I am not implying anything
about the child’s IQ. I am a little concerned about the intelligence of the
doctor treating him for allergies.
I am of the conviction that the most powerful force in the
universe is stupidity and that it is as prevalent as the Force and far stronger
in most people. That is now on full display as many members of the American
public are willing to support a man running for the highest office in the land
who espouses principles so antithetical to the Constitution and the founding
principles of this nation that he must be considered of dubious intellectual
prowess. The Mexicans are not going to pay to build a wall unless Mr. Trump
keeps the books and decides that money from the American Treasury is really the
proceeds of a trade war with Mexico. He’s not going to negotiate with Mr.
Putin. Mr. Putin and his ilk do not negotiate. They dictate or are cowed into
yielding. China is not afraid of Mr. Trump. Calling people names will not make
them anxious to back you in a run for public office although Mr. Trump’s GOP Presidential
opponents don’t even have the courage of their convictions. They say they would
support him should he secure the GOP nomination. Why? As SNL showed last
weekend, Mr. Trump may not be a racist, but he sure says things that any
rational person would interpret as racist, xenophobic, un-American and just
plain nasty, let alone infantile, bullying and, well, stupid.
Has the world gone crazy? Or just stupid?
America. Wake-up. The gal leading the Democratic race may or
may not be a felon, but stupid she is not. I am not so sure about those in the
GOP contest. Are you?
As for American medicine, until we alter the way in which
medical services are paid for, anti-intellectualism will run rampant, because
it is economically beneficial to do lots of MRIs and fewer physical exams. In
addition, the training hours of residents are shrinking while the years of that
training are not proportionally expanding. Efficiency and sleep are out-stripping diligence and perseverance
as the characteristics most valued in a physician trainee. This too is
No one has taken a vow of poverty with the Hippocratic Oath,
but that does not mean every physician’s major concern should be his or her
bank account. Let’s get back to what medicine is supposed to be—an altruistic
profession, not a way to spend a lucrative career. Perhaps once the doctors get
back to being doctors, some of them can then go be politicians and fix that
system as well.
Was this piece too preachy? Perhaps, but I hope it wasn’t