2/1/19 Logic Thwarts Medical Experts, or Not

Several times, I have had doctors ask me, “Do you have any medical training?”
Formerly, I was asked it in the manner of a rebuke, as if physicians were implying that it was not possible for me to have any valid opinion about the rabbit hole I could see them going down, that it was not possible for me to have a medical opinion that was worthy of their having to take the time to stand still enough to hear.
After an injury, many, many years ago involving a dropped steam cleaner wand and a badly burned, infected foot, I was put a very similar question by one of my favorite physicians and surgeons of all time, Dr. Cecil Johnson, as I was whining about still being stuck in the hospital after a skin graft on the Saturday all my friends were down in Mobile to attend a concert featuring The Allman Brothers and Wet Willie at Ladd Memorial Stadium, and why he wouldn’t let me out of the hospital soon enough to get to Mobile. Dr. Johnson cut me off in the middle of my argument, asking, “And just where did you receive your medical training?” There was a sharply raised eyebrow and a scowl on his face.
I was young and that was Cecil Jonson, whom I love, respect, and admire, who treated me with a fatherly kindness and likely talked to me as if I were his own. I would take this from Cecil Johnson then, and even now, though he is long retired. I wish him joy and health. I see him occasionally. Sometimes, I call him to check on him. He is always glad to hear for me.

Now it doesn’t take too well, though there are fewer of those old-school doctors around than there used to be. It seems that most physicians these days have received training in patient rights and patient/caregiver management. They seem now to bend easier. They seem more fluid, almost softer, much less god-like, even though at times in the past we allowed ourselves to treat them in that god-like manner, they growing accustomed to it.
Nowadays, I have had several doctors ask me about medical training, expecting to hear that I have had some. One can learn to understand most of the technical language relevant to a particular medical case if one digs at it long and hard enough. And any significant understanding of the technical language does not go unnoticed by any physician, but both you and the physician are well aware that you are not a physician, that your qualifications are zero.

Some doctors still display this god-like tendency, though. Because of that, I have conducted my own scientific study, offering the concrete facts of the matter.
Please review that chart inserted below:

chart1
In this chart, I established the number of people involved in a particular medical case that have received full medical training, are licensed physicians, and board certified to practice within their medical specialty. Now, please refer the chart below:

chart2
In this chart, I have included the medical experts and a category for everyone else that could be classed from brilliant to idiot, suspecting strongly that I have absolutely no connection to the former and a more than comfortable relationship with the latter.
As you can easily see, the percentage of Yesses on the second chart tops the Yesses in the first chart, so the more likely answer on the patient’s diagnosis is that his blood cancer is the root cause of his complications. One has to go with the numbers.
Now stay with me on this, or you’ll likely get confused and miss something.
There is a problem with expert pronouncements and consensus. If you get one acceptable expert that says A is true, it doesn’t matter how many acceptable experts you get that say the inverse of A is true, since it is not possible for a thing to be both itself and its inverse. The diametrically opposed expert opinions open themselves up for the validity of any opinion in between, no matter who offers it. A thing cannot be both A and nonA. Though a thing cannot be both A and nonA, nonA is not necessarily inverseA. InverseA is 180° out from A. NonA can be a mere tenth-of-a-degree away from A and still be nonA, or rather, close to A but not actually A. NonA would always be a reasonable choice, since we do not, nor should we, expect experts to disagree diametrically. InverseA cannot be reasonably contemplated.
3/4 of the experts say Yes. 1/4 of the experts say no. This is a hard, infalliable example of experts and diametric opposition.
But….
4/5 of the players say yes. 1/5 of the players say no.
Is there not a strong consensus? Well, consensus is not science, but it does bear some inspection.

But there’s an idiot among the players which invalidates the consensus,” one might surmise to oneself. One might have to re-surmise this in a different manner, because if A = inverseA, though it can’t and the equation is false to begin with, then any point between the two is valid, since it is equally false. While false is not the answer we are really seeking, we found the answer lurking withing the equation’s falsity: if everything is false, then everything is true.
Now, some of you statisticians, researchers, and purveyors of academic purity may be looking at this in alarm.

This isn’t scientific. This is ridiculous,” one might rightly say.

The sample is too small. The methodology is flawed. This is ludicrous, the work of an idiot,” the rest may correctly decry.
Yep. They are likely right, but I don’t give a hoot about it. Flawed, too small-ly sampled, mathematically incorrect, not a study at all, intemperate, immoderate, ill-conceived, ill-advised, a jester turned loose amid authorities, a boisterous buffoon full of sound and fury signifying nothing : none of that matters. What matters is how I arranged things to come up with the answer I was prepossessed to arrive at, which satisfies me, which is all that is required here, though if one wants to argue that A=inverseA is true, then one’s foundation is quickly turning into sand down a sinkhole. There is no there there.
None of this helps the patient, which is unfortunate, but, my goodness, the satisfaction of the idiot.

So when does this concert start?” Dr. Johnson asked me.

Gates open at noon. The concert starts at 6,” I replied hopefully, smiling, noticing that his face had softened a bit, now only slightly scowled.

I’ll get you a boot to wear to protect it, and as soon as they get that on you, get out of here and go have a good time,” he said, the scowl now completely gone, a slight smile in its place, a slight smile being a big one for Cecil Johnson.

But mind you, be back at my office on Monday morning. And take the erythromycin I gave you….all of it. I’m not kidding. If you are not going to follow my instructions, then get yourself another doctor,” Doctor Cecil Johnson, MD, FACS, admonished at the doorway of my hospital room shaking his finger at me in a feigned rage as he retreated through the door, the sound of him muttering to himself decreasing in decibels as he sauntered down the hall until they were no longer audible to me, but him meaning every word of the admonition and the mutters.

And don’t get in any trouble!” hollered Cecil Johnson, the fatherly friend and personal mentor, as the elevator doors opened to admit him, hollering loud enough for everyone on the entire east-wing fifth floor to hear.

Yes, sir,” I said to myself, grinning, nodding my head in agreement. Message received.
I sang Wet Willie’s “Keep on Smiling” at the top of my lungs all the way down there as I sped South on Highway 45 in my 1965 Mustang fastback, the 289 engine sounding throaty and powerful as it hummed through the headers, the Holley carburetor secondaries slightly opened. I would hear Wet Willie perform the song in real time just a few hours later, as somehow, in my bright fluorescent-pink Hawaiian shirt, my many friends, already there with a spot picked out on the field in front of the stage, managed to find the colorful me they had been told about amid a throng of fifty thousand people. The music went until midnight. Then we went to my father’s house in Gautier, Mississippi, and partied until daylight. My foot never considered its own plight. And, I did keep my Monday appointment with Dr. Johnson. He asked me about the concert. He examined my foot. He was satisfied.
In all this, my inverseA had managed to resolve itself to an abruptA, which is a new, heretofore unconsidered variable in the equation.
Perhaps, after considering that, I’ll have to completely re-do my entire study.
Nah. I reckon I made my point.
©2019 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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