Getting a Second Opinion

Most people have heard this term and have understood it to mean ‘go to another doctor and get his opinion’. And many times, we hear of the miraculous stories that have turned out so well by that second opinion.

However, that is the exception rather than the norm. Doctors were all trained at the same universities and taken the same classes – all trained by the same methods as covered in previous blogs – and generally have the same, normal, average, opinions that they were instructed to have. Chancing on a physician who actually learned enough to think for himself is rare.

So, I have always understood the concept of getting a second opinion to mean something other than getting another opinion from the same source. I go to some person outside the established medical combine for an opinion. The real worth of a second opinion is that it is from another source than the first opinion and not just from another mouthpiece of the same school of thought.

Which brings us one step further in our understanding: why do some people seem to instinctively feel the need for another opinion? Could it be that something in their gut tells them that the answer is wrong? Interesting, hmm?

These people do not need a second opinion. They already have the answer! They just need someone to tell them what they can do about it, where they can go get the help they know is out there.

Instincts can tell us that the first opinion is wrong but what about the people who are a little clueless in that area? They are at the mercy of the medical establishment regardless of which doctor they go for the “other” opinion.

Setting up the idea that another doctor will actually give a competing opinion is, in most cases, a fallacy propagated by the medical community itself. Of course they’re not going to advise you to go outside their community for answers!

That sort of thing would defeat the purpose of their monopoly. (And does that sound like mediocrity at work!)

Chiropractic took years to become accepted. For decades they took the brunt of the rest of the medical community, being called “quacks” and worse.

Now, however, they are fully accepted within the medical community and can stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the professionals and treat the newer branches as “quacks”. Yes, chiropractic has joined the great mediocrity.

And I imagine that someday, holistic practitioners, acupuncturists, herbalists, and naturopaths will be accepted and, in turn, pick on whatever new thing is up-and-coming.

That seems to be par for the course.

But I do not know who you might get a second opinion from at that point.

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I had an old book at one time, published in 1840 called “Midwifery”.

Being a student of history, I was anxious to better understand how children were brought into the world in the age old “natural” style.

Whew! It was an eye-opener.

Turns out it was written by the staff at a Boston hospital and was a handbook for those who wished to practice modern, “scientific” midwifery.

It cautioned that if anything went wrong, call a doctor. And some of the techniques described gave me cause to wonder.

Page after page showed some very graphic iamges of “things” that had been birthed. The details were enough to cause any young woman to wonder if she really wanted to risk have a child or an “it”.

The constant refrain in the volume was that if the child were not perfect, visually, the midwife should wring its neck – if such could be determined – and pronounce it “born dead” without letting the mother glimpse such monstrosity.

When my children were born, I wondered why the nurse first thing counted the fingers and toes of the child before giving it the age old swat on the butt. They were checking for “deformity”.

It is sad to think that mediocritization begins at birth.

Over the years, I have met many people who were born into a venue not ruled by that book with visible deformities. Some were bad enough that the doctors would say, “she’ll only live six months”… or “two years”… or something. And many of them grew to adulthood. And one I recently read about, reached 108 years.

Imagine if the midwife or doctor had simply twisted the baby’s neck… “born dead”.

I don’t believe we were meant to play God.

Our brand of that decision making process leads, ultimately, to mediocrity.

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Democracy, the American Brand

The Bush Administration set its primary goal to be in democratizing the Middle East. Taking down all the petty tyrants there and giving the governments over to the people there in a program of assisted revolution, American style.

What was odd was that there was a democracy already established in one of those nations but it was not exactly the type of democracy our people could stomach.

They had opened up the elections in this one country and the party that they had democratically elected was – at least by our yardstick – a terrorist organization.

So, we decided to boycott them into reason. It seems we want people to have democracy as long as it is OUR democracy.

And exactly how is that considered a democracy if they submit to another country choosing their leaders for them? America has been doing that – especially in the Mid-East – long enough already to know that it doesn’t work, yet we still try and do the same stupid thing.

Either you want them to have a democracy, or you don’t.

And, apparently, we don’t.

We seem to only care about puppet states that kowtow to our interests. That’s not democracy, that’s Imperialism.

And I had thought that was what we had been combating against all the years of our history…

Well, at least all the years up to Lincoln.

So it seems our brand of democracy, the brand we are trying to foment on the world, is nothing but a very watered-down and mediocre shadow of what democracy really is.

‘Nuff said.

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A Little Harmless Mediocrity

As I mentioned in my last post, the concept of teaching in this country is a little misguided.

The method we currently use is, in effect, telling our students that they are too stupid to learn anything so we have to tell them how to do everything, every step of the way.

We tell them that they cannot figure out this stuff on their own so we have to tell them and show them each separate part. Without experimentation and being challenged to actually use their brains, how are any of these young people ever going to learn how to actually apply any of this data or use it in an innovative way?

Well, that’s not likely, is it? But there is a positive side to all this:

This system produces adults who cannot think for themselves and will be nothing but a group of sheep.

But, hey, that works out pretty good for this government, doesn’t it?

This is mediocrity at it’s finest.

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Improving Education

Learning the difference between Right and Wrong is basic knowledge picked up by children through observation of their families, their communities, their nations. They do not have to be sat down and drilled in the variations, although at times they might have to be upbraided by some authority – parent, teacher, law enforcement officer, judge – when they have exceeded boundaries. Most of the actual learning comes through personal interest (self preservation) and observation.

Teaching is the passive facilitator to learning.

Educators who believe they have to tell the students exactly what they need to learn utilize the rote method of teaching. This has become more prevalent since the introduction of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Legislation in the early part of the 21st Century. This method of ‘teaching’ is good for preparing students to take the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests at the end of certain grade levels, but has been shown to be useless for any long-term retention of knowledge.

Thus ‘teaching’ has become nothing more than the active facilitator to testing.

I have not been a classroom teacher – although I have lectured and given seminars in the past – so I cannot speak from that experience, but I can speak from my classroom experience as a student. Most the teachers I had were of the rote variety and I retained very little in my memory of the teachers themselves, the classes, the subjects – all the data drilled into my head seeped away slowly, as such happens with that form of instruction.

Mid-way through my first grade, my family moved from Oregon back to our home state of Texas and I continued the first grade there. My only clear memory of any instruction at that level was the teacher (Mrs. Baker) who kept me after class to teach me how to read phonetically, as it was a skill her students already learned the basics and I was sadly lacking. I still remember the first word I was able to read aloud to her: ‘cookie’.

The reason I mention this memory is that in later years I came across my first grade report card from Oregon and saw the teacher’s note on it: ‘he is progressing nicely and is reading at the required level’.

And how could I read at that time but a week later could not? Why did I have to learn it all over again? The answer is probably that I never really learned it in the first place.

My fourth grade teacher has always been my favorite. Mrs. Bricker retired shortly after I passed through her class and I have always felt the later years missed out on a marvelous opportunity to see how teaching should be done. First, she gave no homework.

This may not seem like much but as student and later as a parent who would like to spend time with my growing offspring, homework simply got in the way of other things far more important. Yes, even more important than their institutionalized version of “education”.

The reason she gave no homework, she told us on the first day of school, was that teaching us was her job, not the job of our parents. And if had questions about something we were studying who would be the best to respond, the parent who may know nothing of the subject or herself? Obviously, teaching was something she had fully embraced and for which she readily took full responsibility.

Long before I ever heard of enquiry-based instruction, I was learning under that method. I actually learned how to learn under her guidance and became filled with the joy learning can bring.

She understood that learning was not something the teacher did, oh, no. It was what the student did. You cannot force a person to learn something. The process of learning – so completely divorced from the methods at memorization used in the present rote system – involve the student’s willingness to absorb the data.

Information received in a rote manner sits in the memory, easily accessible, but completely disconnected from everything else in memory. Some educators tell us that constant reiteration of the material will simply force it into memory but I can attest that it is not so for most and will never be so to all but a handful of people. The data sitting in the rote tray will only be absorbed into the intelligent memory of the student through utilization of the material and the realizations of the connections between the new data and what they already know.

This wringing of one’s brains to massage the data is how learning actually comes about, even while the rote tray is being dumped. It is hard work wringing the memories but the resultant flood of realization is exciting enough to peak one’s interest.

And the ability to actually “learn” something.

Even without the interference from dedicated but misguided educators that are confused with “teachers”.

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Science and technology is a primary focus in our social context these days, actually for the greater part of the last century. Since the development of quantum theory at the beginning of the last century, scientists now tell us that they are but a stone’s throw from completing the Grand Unified Theory. And with this tool, they assure us, we will know everything there is about simply everything in the universe and the way it works.

Ahem. I think I have heard something like this before. Was it in the middle of the nineteenth century that scientists were telling us they had pretty well nailed down everything there was to know? And was there a move to have the Patent Office closed because, as they said, “everything has been invented”? And I seem to recall something similar being said at some point before the Reformation, that all the secrets of the world had already been revealed. And a Greek philosopher or two said something very similar in their time as well.

So this idea they have in their heads that we have finally discovered all there is to know is just another load of bull – been there, heard that before – and I’m not buying any bridges or swampland today. Why? Anomalies!

What are these anomalies? Facts that do not fit in with the theories subscribed to by the mainstream of scientific thought. But what exactly are they? Some observations made over the years and some data which just cannot be made to fit in with present theory. There are too many to list in such a short amount of space (which is why they present such a problem to any attempt at unification). And there are anomalies in almost every field of scientific endeavor. William Corliss’ “Sourcebook Project” has been cataloging these things for twenty-five years. Yes, there’s that many!! (See “” for more information on Sourcebook.)

I have spoken to several people – mathematicians and physicists actually involved in developing the GUT – specifically about these anomalies. Their response was that the anomalies were too few to bother with, too minor to contend with in developing their theory.

Funny, but I thought a theory to explain everything in the universe would have to include the anomalous data as well, or are the anomalies somehow outside the universe they hope to describe?

I posed the notion to these gentlemen: would it not be wiser to rework the theory now to include the anomalies rather than have to trash the whole thing later? Their response was fairly uniform in thinking that the anomalies would somehow simply “fall into place” once the whole GUT was complete.

That sounds like a mechanic putting together an engine only to find several nuts and bolts remaining after it was finished explaining that the extra parts would be added after the engine was started and they could figure out where they fit in, even if one of the extra parts seemed to resemble a coat-hanger, or a kitchen sink.

So, the GUT when complete will be nothing more than the very typical human product of an approximation of normalcy in the universe. Again, nothing more than a very typical mediocre explanation…

Even in science and technology, we maintain that as long as the average stuff is accounted for, we are winners of the challenge. All the universe that falls outside the spectrum of this averaged medianistic world view is deemed unnecessary.

I am simply waiting for it to come around and bite them on the butt.

Which is always the case.

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The Mediocrity of Wealth

There is an old saying that everyone would love to be rich.

It happens to be a lie. Just like the characters who claim the Southerners who fought the Civil War did so because even if they did not own slaves, they hoped to some day. That was a lie as well.

No, believe it or not, most people do not aspire to joining the Fortune 500 wealthiest persons list.

Sure, a lot of people loved watching that show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” not because they wanted to emulate that life, they merely were curious about how that other half lived.

There have been enough stories current about how vast wealth has ruined and crippled people. Enough stories of the vultures that latch onto the wealthy and steal them blind. Enough stories proving that money cannot buy happiness.

Some people would love to have that lifestyle and many actually work toward that end, as the number of millionaires grows every year. But most people just want enough to be happy and stable, enough to keep them comfortable during this period of their life as well as their retirement years.

“Happy and stable” may have become a term of derision in our modern society where people race to find the next big new thing, and it may have gotten the “mediocrity” tag placed on it as well, but one should remember that situation looks different from one person to the next.

A happy retirement for some would be going fishing whenever they wanted. To me that would be torture. I would prefer to be able to sit around and read books, which other people would find an excruciating existence.

So “happy and stable” may get batted around as being so very mediocre, but it’s not.

Personally, I think striving for wealth is kind of mediocre. So many people can do it already, what’s the big deal?

But we each have our own ideas about what makes life interesting.

It’s the lack of choices that breed mediocrity.

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