LIVING PROOF A Medical Mutiny. By Michael Gearin-Tosh. 334
pp. New York:
"When Gearin-Tosh describes to Sir David
Weatherall of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford the
reasoning behind his decision to reject chemotherapy, and asks
whether he is crazy to try diet, acupuncture and breathing
exercises instead, Sir David thinks for a minute and then says,
''What you must understand, Mr. Gearin-Tosh, is that we know so
little about how the body works.'' The author is astonished.
''Blood rushes through my head,'' he writes. ''I could be floating
in air.'' A doctor has confessed medical fallibility. A doctor has
said, your guess, and ministrations, and flailings, in this case
are as good as mine."
Often, when people make decisions, swimming in the same "sea"
of information, different people's guesses are not only "comparably
good" -- they are the same. Readers of this thread certainly
know more than 75,000 words, with an average of 3 nuanced
definitions a piece - and agree on definitions with very high
reliability (though not perfectly.) The sense of definitions, in
practically all the cases, occurs by a "guessing" and "focusing" --
known to be mostly unconsious, in which people are very much the
same. Statistically, we are identical in some core patterns of
logic. As social animals, we couldn't make it any other way.
The review contains news at the end - Natalie Angier is working
on a book on a book about how to master the modern scientific canon.
The problems there, and in peacemaking, and in most other areas of
complex communication and cooperation - are largely common --
because, in ways that make us human - ways the we all depend on - we
are the same.
If we'd solve just a few problems about checking -- we could all
get more done, be happier, and be much safer.
But if we did, we'd also have to do some changing. It would be
harder to hoard information - and harder to lie.
For this change to occur in the United States, people with power
and influence outside the United States may have to take an
interest, and ask for answers that matter enough to pursue.