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« I dont know nuthin about nuthin | Main | Thirteen years »


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Ken Houghton

I thought people were talking about the book without having read it because it wasn't not out then.

Never would it happen, of course, that people would discuss books they have not read.


A few thoughts this raises for me:

1) It annoys me when people pan or praise books they have not read. What a pointless exercise. And yet we get ourselves caught up in the "discussion" all the same.

2) We do not have time to do all the research and all the thinking to come to conclusions about every difficult and important topic out there; we have to lean on experts, and sometimes we do not know what experts to lean on.

3) Medicine seems a prime example of this.
a) I have a friend who was trying to change her diet to reduce her risk of developing diabetes. She could have chosen any diet she wanted and someone would have told her that was The Best One. It drove her crazy not knowing who to trust.
b) As a result of a mammogram, it was recommended that I receive a biopsy. As it happens, I know someone who knows one of the very top breast cancer physicians and researchers in the country who looked at the film and said, "Simple calcifications; no big deal. Check it again in 6 months." Had I not had this opinion, I would have been put on a health care conveyor belt that I had no way of assessing.
c) Harvard Magazine just had an interesting article about the history of cardiac care, the upshot being we have faith in procedures without empirical evidence to back that up.

4) But we still need baseline beliefs to get through the day so we don't need to spend all of our energy making every decision. In another health-related example, the son of a friend had a neurological issue that made word choice very difficult. He explained that he couldn't choose a word because all of the words were there at once. The quick paths that led to the words had been blasted out of place and he needed to re-set them all again. It has been an incredibly painstaking, laborious process.

5) We need the shortcuts, but shortcuts are not always the best way to the right conclusion. Which is why we need other people's insights, which they usually get to by taking their own shortcuts. Unfortunately, it's very easy to critique other people's shortcuts as the shortcuts they are without allowing the grace to see that shortcuts are a necessary dynamic to human functioning.

6) Not all shortcuts are good.

I look forward to part 3.



If part three is as strong as the first two, it'll be a barn-burner. One thing to consider: in part one, you link together decision-making in the realm of opinion based on faith and on trust. It might be helpful to separate the two. What's the difference? Faith believes over and against one's experience in the world, sort of like a major premise one applies to the minor premises of particular situations. Trust comes from within the realm of human dealings with one another, building outward from situations to make larger presumptions about who's word is worth taking in the world. Trust can be broken by others, but faith is only lost in and to ourselves.

mac macgillicuddy

You have to get over this or you are going to have a heart attack. Of course, that could be just opinion.

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