Friday, January 30, 2009

Why is is that we remember what we remember?

5 ½ years of college, and the one thing that I remember most distinctly being said by one of the teachers is as follows: “Suddenly, you realize that all that you have learned for all these years is nothing but bullshit.” The teacher in question was Dominda Wyjesecara (whose name I have spelled very poorly), and he was speaking in his Discrete Mathematics class. Unfortunately, that is about the only thing I remember from said class, other than the fact he chewed on his chalk quite a bit as he was thinking. Still, it has been a very useful statement throughout my life.

So often we take for granted what we have been told, what we are “supposed” to do, what the “experts” say, that we forget to question whether or not what we have been told is right for us or even right at all. I watched this excellent video today from http://www.ted.com/ (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/eva_vertes_looks_to_the_future_of_medicine.html). This young woman, Eva Vertes, was giving a presentation on her hypotheses for cancer treatment options based on redirecting the body’s own response. Honest to goodness, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to this young woman as she described her thought process that led her to where she is today. In her naiveté, she asked questions that hadn’t been asked and made connections that hadn’t been made. We need more people like that.

Expert power becomes a problem when it is used to suppress inquisitiveness and innovation. We are being barraged with messages, from Washington DC and elsewhere, telling us that we can’t solve our own problems- only government and other “experts” can do it. And just how well has that been working so far? And here we get back to the bullshit factor. When I was young, I was told that good ole FDR was one of the greatest presidents EVER. Now, what do you know, a UCLA study has come out that shows that his rampant government spending actually made things worse (FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate - http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409.aspx). Apparently the Obama Whitehouse didn’t get this memo. I have a message for the folks in DC – QUIT SPENDING MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE! While you’re at it, quit telling me how to live my life. You don't have all the answers, and a lot of the time you're not even asking the right questions.

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