When Saying Foolish Things Makes You A Fool

When Saying Foolish Things
Makes You A Fool


Leonard Zwelling

         Even his running mate was stunned by Donald Trump’s latest
pleading that the Russians employ their hacking abilities to find the 30,000
emails he claims that Hillary Clinton has concealed from us all. When you add
the entreaty for our enemy to commit espionage on an American citizen, let
alone one running for the highest office in the land, to Trump’s other claims, you
have a candidate who has crossed some line that hitherto was thought

course, this is not The Donald’s first venture into saying foolish things.

         He claims that if he walked down a street in New York City
and shot someone it wouldn’t affect his popularity.

         He seems to believe that the Mexican government will pay for
a wall on its northern border with the United States.

         He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants (which he
will first need to identify) and, of course, install a religious test for entry
into the United States.

         He wants to reintroduce the use of enhanced interrogation in
the Middle East and elsewhere as a weapon against our enemies, because he
believes he’s the toughest kid on the playground.

         I am sure I am leaving a whole lot out, but I simply cannot
listen to him any longer without using the remote to search the TV for an old
episode of Law and Order. He’s a bore
and an ignorant one at that.

         I believe that Mr. Trump has reached the point of having
moved from simply an uninformed bully saying stupid things to being an actual

         Dr. Fidler always warned me not to call anyone stupid, just
say that someone may be saying stupid things. This is despite the overwhelming
evidence that stupidity is the most powerful force in the Universe and, sorry,
there really are a lot of stupid people out there. Like it or not, many of them
vote and their opinions count. At some point, it might be wise to take off the
kid gloves and just say that Mr. Trump is a fool even as his running mate is

         This problem of overt politeness in describing utterances as
foolish and distinct from the individual utterer may not be such a good idea in
this case. We must be careful because we all say stupid things on occasion. I
recently asked where the batteries were at Bering’s with my back turned right
to the display of batteries. I felt like a moron. Of course I said to the
salesmen who directed me to them, “I’m a moron.” I have no compunction about
admitting to saying stupid things. I try to avoid it, but, like everyone else,
it’s hard for me to avoid saying dumb things sometimes. (I am sure regular blog
readers agree.)

         Let’s move on though to people, like Mr. Trump, who, if
stupid or foolish, can do irreparable damage.

         I am thinking of the people promoting this Moonshot concept
in cancer research. Intrinsic to the concept is the notion that some strategic plan
currently available or liable to be synthesized can advance the cause of a
cancer cure (and they use this word). This is foolish because despite the 45
years of the War on Cancer, we still do not understand the mechanisms of
carcinogenesis sufficiently to really intervene and reverse the malignant
process with much success. We can do far better at preventing cancer
(colonoscopy, mammograms, various approaches to prostate cancer, HPV vaccines, and
sunscreen), but it is still more common that an advanced cancer in a human will
advance further than it will remit due to human intervention. That’s just the
nature of the beast in 2016 and reflects how far we still need to go to
actually comprehend the biochemistry, molecular biology and immunology of human

         Personally, I think the Moonshotists have moved from making
foolish promises to the rest of the world, to just being fools. They
over-promise, under-deliver, and try to convince funders that the cure is just
around the corner. It isn’t. The work is there to do, but the goal is still in
the distance.

it is time to realize that we ought to consider whether all of those
billions of dollars being spent on the various Moony platforms ought to be
spent on education and prevention instead. Such a strategy might decrease the cancer
death rate more than the study of new drugs for systemic cancer sponsored by
big pharma. That would be a really non-foolish approach. This is unlikely to
occur as it is neither sexy nor Nobel-worthy enough, let alone lucrative.

         I think Mr. Trump is a fool and probably ignorant if not
stupid. This may change once he starts getting foreign policy and security
briefings like President Obama sees every day. Mrs. Clinton will comprehend
these briefings given that she got them for four years as Secretary of State.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump can grasp the true nature of the danger
in the world and to adjust his rhetoric accordingly.

         The leaders of American oncology feeding at the trough of
federal largesse and that of the pharmaceutical industry ought to consider how
they will be remembered due to their behavior at this crucial juncture in the
cancer story. Will they be seen as wisely applying the limited resources of the
country to strategies that actually prevent cancer or will they just be
profligate spenders of every dime they can get their hands on looking for the
next Gleevec?

         In the end, will they just be a “fools on the hill” of a
pile of money that once spent can never be used to teach our kids how to avoid

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