Friday, March 23, 2012

five facts

Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson have been playing at the Théâtre de la Huchette in permanent repertory since 1957.

Con artist Doug "Chameleon" Street, Jr. once posed as a Harvard Medical School graduate and, despite having very limited knowledge of medicine, talked his way into a residency at Detroit's Wayne State University Medical School. "From there he moved to Illinois, where he worked as a surgeon at a Chicago hospital and performed 36 [successful] hysterectomies before being discovered. (One of his colleagues noticed that Street seemed to run back and forth to the men's room a lot; he followed him one day and caught Doug referring to a stack of medical textbooks he had stashed in there.)"

Whenever doctor strikes have occurred, the mortality rate declines.

Just 11 people (at most) attended the funeral of Karl Marx, who died penniless.

It probably rains diamonds on Neptune.



Tyler said...

I imagine the only controversial remark above is the statistic relating doctor strikes to mortality rate decline. Though I haven't researched it myself, it comes from page 105 of Neil Postman's TECHNOPOLY (1992), and Postman is someone I've come to regard as credible.

the curator said...


Tyler said...

Thanks for the info. I suppose I'd have to change "whenever" to "sometimes" in order for the statement to be 100%, inarguably true. Or to something like: "Mortality rate never increases when doctors go on strike."

I still regard Postman as credible though, especially since he made the comment back in 1992 when the data could easily have been more supportive of the claim (even now it's somewhat supportive). And yes, of course it's true that surgery is always dangerous, hence fewer deaths when fewer surgeries are preformed. At the same time, as Postman notes, a Senate investigation in 1974 reported that "American doctors had performed 2.4 million unnecessary operations, causing 11,900 deaths and costing about $3.9 billion" (to say nothing of negligence). So people should be allowed to consider this mortality rate statistic without being cast as "alternative-medicine fringe dwellers who genuinely see the medical establishment as some sinister cabal" (as your second link seems to do). Besides (I know you're not making this claim; I'm still responding to your second link), Postman doesn't even argue that modern medicine is a sham or scourge, he's simply making the point that we live in a culture that is irresponsibly infatuated with technology (every expression of which carries its own ideology), and then ponders the implications and questions the results. The entire chapter (about 12 pages), which I recommend not only for context but also because it's interesting, can be read HERE (skip to page 105).

As you might have guessed, I couldn't resist adding that particular mortality rate statistic after the anecdote about Doug Street, Jr's 36 successful hysterectomies... The contrast is just too strange and humorous, much like the image of Marx dying penniless juxtaposed with a place where it literally rains diamonds. (I'll leave it to master cryptographer's to figure out how the first fact fits in with the rest.)