Reality

Reality

By

Leonard Zwelling

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/opinion/its-not-the-future-we-cant-see.html

New York Times editorialist Ezra Klein has a piece in the June 20 edition that is basically a commentary on how hard it is to understand the present.

Klein starts with the congressional hearings on “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” what used to be called UFOs.  There clearly is sufficient evidence that something is out there that cannot be explained by the behavior of aircraft from any known country in the current world. It is only when evaluators listen to the reality of what other’s experienced in the air, that the truth will be discovered.

Klein goes on to elaborate on the current debate over whether machine learning has reached the level of sentience. Can a computer be sufficiently programmed to actually become a being? The data are hard to refute. Computers can draw pictures from word descriptions, have conversations with people, and actually explain jokes and rather obtuse stories. Hmmm. What’s a sentient being?

Klein quickly moves from explaining the present to current events still unwinding. What has the January 6 Committee really unearthed? Very little. Most sentient American beings know full well that a riot occurred on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol and that it was not a spontaneous eruption, but a rather well-planned outburst of fury stoked by President Donald Trump. In a series of moves before January 6 and on that day itself, Mr. Trump did everything in his power to overturn a legitimate election result and still to this day denies the truth of that election. Trump was willing to sacrifice both the Constitution and his vice president to stay in power. What’s worse is that so many Republicans believe his nonsense or at least profess to believing it. And they are running on this lunacy. And winning.

Klein points to the Nixon resignation of 1974 and the Gore concession of 2000 as examples of people stepping up to reality and throwing in the towel. Mr. Trump and his followers will not do either. Thus, their present makes our future dangerous. January 6 could happen again in January 2025 if Mr. Trump runs again and loses.

There is one other place closer to home where reality denied is the future compromised. That is at MD Anderson.

What is now obvious to anyone willing to view reality is that the Pisters Administration is a mediocre one whose only claim to fame has been the handling of the Covid pandemic. OK, while not over, it’s handled. Now what?

There is still the problem of the vacant Division and department leadership roles, the raft of unqualified people in key positions of authority starting with the president, and a general lack of morale among the faculty. There is also a true lack of transparency with regard to the plan for the future of the cancer center and the constant drive to hide reality behind a veil of “niceness.”

What I interpret the current idea of “professionalism” as is a denial of reality in the form of being kind to the incompetent and hiding true feelings behind the guise of stoicism. This is very dangerous stuff when people’s lives are on the line. Sure, I want my doctor to be nice, but I mostly want her to be competent and to have passion and compassion. I want the doctor to care enough to get angry at a nurse who does not share the doctor’s dedication and I frankly don’t care all that much about whether or not the doctor talks frankly to a subordinate.

As a frequent patient, I care about the reality of the present. Please tell me the truth and get me a nurse who knows her stuff, not one that cares more about whether or not the doctor is nice to her.

Medical care requires a firm grip on reality unvarnished by feigned sentiments. I want a sentient human as my doctor, not one so concerned about his or her behavior that niceness trumps objectivity.

People come to MD Anderson for the best, honest truth and the best, honest treatment. They do not come for the disposition of the doctor to the nurse. Focus on the present and the future will take care of itself. And as far as I know, all MD Anderson patients thus far come from Earth.

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