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Hullabaloo


Sunday, December 27, 2015

 

Stop making sense

by Tom Sullivan

David Silbersweig, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, wrote to extol the virtues of liberal arts (and a degree in philosophy) in the Washington Post on Christmas Eve:

My father, uncles, and grandfathers were all physicians. As I studied existentialism in college, I thought that becoming a doctor would constitute a pre-determined lack of free will. Then I took a course, Philosophy in Medicine, and I discovered that a philosophical stance and approach could identify and inform core issues associated with everything from scientific advances to healing and biomedical ethics. My honors thesis was in philosophy of mind. I was captivated by the relationship between the mind and the brain, just as that nexus, both scientifically and philosophically, was taking off. In that context, I critiqued arguments for the irreducibility of psychology to neurobiology.

Silbersweig found that it was not possible to understand the body without the mind and vice versa, and that philosophical thought experiments "were unknowingly misguided by virtue of being under-informed by data." He found that blending studies of both helped make better sense of each. Furthermore,

When evaluating applicants for student or faculty positions and evaluating candidates for tenure and promotion, I find that those with the broader set of academic experiences are generally the most able to deliver innovative and impactful solutions. In my various institutional administrative roles, and in my interactions with many non-academic industries, I see that those with a broader intellectual background are often best able to frame questions, and contribute at high levels in our organizations, which face ever-changing landscapes and challenges.

It is a shame that few appreciate that. We prefer story lines that resolve before the last commercial break. We prefer simple answers to complex questions and leaders who promise to deliver them.

Writing for Salon, Dan Sinykin of Grinnell College attended rallies in Iowa. Ted Cruz: revival preacher. Marco Rubio: candidate for Republicans put off by extremist Republicans and Donald Trump. Donald Trump: the choice of those who have had their fill of "fucking intellectuals.” One button read, “Get Crazy Vote Trump.” Making sense is out of fashion this season.

Politico reviews some of the crazier ideas from the GOP debates that mostly slipped under the radar:

Ted Cruz called for putting the United States back on the gold standard. Marco Rubio accused President Barack Obama of destroying the U.S. military. Huckabee said Bernie Madoff’s rip-offs weren’t as bad as what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare. Lindsey Graham said his administration would monitor all “Islamic websites,” not just jihadist ones. I had even forgotten Trump’s claim that vaccines caused autism in a 2-year-old girl he knew.

It all seems so bizarre that Villagers can't keep from telling themselves that somehow people will come to their senses in the voting booth. There is another Washington Post piece this morning suggesting that for all the enthusiasm of Trump's Iowa rallies many of his supporters will not likely show up for the caucuses. Iowans finally will let the air out of Trump's big head. Not going to hold my breath on that.



Happy Hollandaise everyone.