When I was young, I remember writing an essay about a “Tempest in a teapot.” The story, I wrote, escapes me but the title remains.
The temporal despondency that exists in our society today seems to long for the next calamity, even if there isn't one. So we create it. Fear is a loathing demand encumbered by a few to create the “double, double boil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble” for the rest of us.
The enigma that saturates our fabric seems to arise of an evolutionary process of desire; the desire to live on the edge of disaster. Maybe the art of science and the science of art have morphed into each other and the calamity that exists is none other than the one that we imagine.
The daily dose of what will kill us comes naturally to the guardians of the expressed words. The media moguls troll the world in search of disasters and pick out anecdotal images of grief, trying to invoke our sentiments on an hour by hour basis. Something has gone terribly wrong. Even our entertainment has reached a spiral downwards and the end spins at the bottom scraping the floor looking for futility, horror and disasters in what has become known as “Reality TV.” We long to communicate but in 140 characters. We long to see others but in digital photographs. We long for affirmations but as" thumbs up" or "likes." We are drifting slowly away mired in the chaos of our own little teapots.
With that introduction of the macabre sense of today let me introduce the medicine world that has drank from the same cup, the wisdom of exploitation. Medicine is in the throes of a change, but it is not in the glow and luster of the latest gadgets that tell you your heart rate, your electrocardiogram or your blood alcohol level on the fly, neither is it the promise of checking your cholesterol, urinary metabolites or electrolytes in your blood stream by blinking your eyelids, nor is it the future of nano-sensors transmitting information about likely mutated genomic structure within our DNA that will result in disease on a second by second basis to alert and warn you of the impending calamity. No it is none of those; it is the sheer programming of the human mind to constantly fear the unexpected. This fear then draws the populace into a terrible consequential narcissistic continuum of fleeing from the inevitable grim reaper, as if anyone can escape him or her.
Some talk of disruption in medicine, while others hail the future as the ShangriLa of always tethered to the once forbidden fruit of universal knowledge. But what has it brought us, comfort, peace or happiness? Is not the premise of progress to aim for a better life? What defines better life? More access to useless information that creates larger tempests in our own teapots, forever shackled to the ultimate tragedy of nonexistence.
Today in Medicine we do empirical work, that cannot be replicated more than half the times (here), and we never publish the negative data, since that is so un-medicine-like-not-to-show-affirmation-of-desired-premise. We massage data, manipulate numbers and rest our wits on some arcane mathematical symbols all the while playing with the degrees of freedom to arrive at the predestined “truths.” What does that say for us?
Before you think Medicine is the terrible art of what is wrong in the world today, let me suggest that finance, anthropology, chemistry, physics and all other fields including the arts suffer similar fates. You just have to dig a little deeper to find the hidden “nasty precious stone.”
So what is to become of this? Is there a solution?
Of course there is!
The basic argument against this contrived art of the probable lies in, “If something or someone defies common sense, then proper vigilance and replication of their contention must be undertaken independently.” But what if you do not have the necessary scientific/mathematical/statistical tools to challenge the premise? Ah! But if you possess common sense and that sense chirps in your inner ear, listen to it.
So I started with the “Tempest in a Teapot” and it holds true. We are all so focused by the clang and bang of the next disaster approaching that our teapot is always shimmering with wakes of turbulence. But remember it is and always will be our own teapot, which we can steady and from which we can pour our own elixir of life, undisturbed.