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Letter from a Medical Doctor - Comments

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 1 by AtheistEgbert

Maybe he is a witchdoctor.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 18:54:17 UTC | #913135

JackR's Avatar Comment 2 by JackR

Good Lord. That is... disturbing.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 18:57:18 UTC | #913138

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

I am an Indonesian medical doctor and I am interesting to learn further about evolution. I want to ask you several question related with evolution.

Could I recommend the reading of biology and evolutionary text books.

"The Magic of Reality", would be a good start! "The Selfish Gene" and "Climbing Mount Improbable" would provide a good follow up.

Some urgent reading on evolved antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections is also recommended.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:02:30 UTC | #913142

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 4 by Premiseless

These are common theistic mindsets - comprehension white coat syndrome. However the evidence accounts for a condition, it must be due the white coat so you're really OK! Erm, I suspect we have a retreat to ill logic, for delusional or strategic motives.

When this guy puts on his coat the Earths blood pressure rises and tectonic plates inch there way towards the door!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:03:57 UTC | #913143

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 5 by potteryshard

Naw... I think he's a wishdoctor. At least witchdoctors have to be astute enough to remember the dance.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:04:43 UTC | #913144

elisa_fdm's Avatar Comment 6 by elisa_fdm

Disturbing as this is, I'm pretty sure he could be a doctor. I'm not sure about the curriculum for medical students in Indonesia, but even if it did include evolutionary biology, students wouldn't have to buy into the stuff in order to pass their exams.

My former housemate, a British Creationist and a PhD in business and finance, had a friend who was also British, a Creationist and an anaesthetist (sp?). Not sure if he had a PhD but he definitely had a masters in medicine!

This is just to say that you don't have to go all the way to the far East to find Creationist medical doctors.

Of course I do dearly hope that the OP guy is not really a doctor but, to answer Richard's questions, yes, I do think he could be for real and no, I wouldn't like to let him treat me if I were ill but how are you supposed to know? I never asked my GP what he thinks about evolution to be honest. Perhaps I should.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:11:08 UTC | #913146

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 7 by Tyler Durden

I am an Indonesian medical doctor and I am interesting to learn further about evolution.

This presupposes he knows anything about evolution in the first place. A common tactic of the ignorant.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:46:47 UTC | #913162

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 8 by Neodarwinian

Ron Paul is a medical doctor.

Creationist medical doctors abound!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:49:39 UTC | #913166

Rattlesnake's Avatar Comment 9 by Rattlesnake

Try digging further, Professor: one way is that you could put some of the ethical dilemmas in "Medical School Interviews" (Lee and Picard) to him. See what he says when you engage him on subjects that are in his context.

Perhaps he has heard of Orang Pendek and this has whetted his appetite.

I think your second question is one I find very hard to answer, because I have seen you pose it before. It raises all kinds of emotions in me, though mostly anger and frustration. I respectfully request your thoughts on your approach. I live in the hinterland of a tropical region and have to accept the teatment I get.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:57:12 UTC | #913169

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 10 by Ignorant Amos

It's someone taking the.....havin' a larffff!!!!!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:59:10 UTC | #913170

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 11 by Vorlund

Wasn't it Sam Harris said that among scientists medical practitioners were more likely to believe in god because of their relationship with patients and coping with trauma and death?

So, he certainly could be a doctor though I rather think of all scientific disciplines a doctor should be more aware of evolution than any other. If he understands heredity, genetics and the developments on gene therapy and DNA and as noted above the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria then how the hell can he deny evolution?

Would I go to him with a problem? Not if it concerned anything more serious than a note for cough mixture.

On another note I am frankly unimpressed with 'doctors' general medical practitioners even in the UK. Having suffered for most of my adult life with a sleep disorder that was persistently misdiagnosed and trivialised I have come to relaise that they are not good problem solvers.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:10:56 UTC | #913173

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 12 by ShinobiYaka

Withholding his name won’t work, it’s my G.P. I know it is!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:12:15 UTC | #913174

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 13 by The Jersey Devil

1.Does anyone here think he really is a medical doctor?

He doesn't understand evolution and this brings his credibility as a doctor into question.

Based on the size of the economy of Indonesia and the fact that they have religous freedom and a republic, etc., I would think that Indonesia has modern medical standards.

I doubt he's a medical doctor, perhaps he is a purveyor of herbal medicine and in his mind it qualifies him as a doctor. (Empot Ayam? Now that was funny.) I can not say for sure, though.

It's off topic, but I see nothing in the OP that indicates he rejects evolution or that he is a creationist or anything other then a lack of a basic understanding of evolution.

2.Would anyone here consult him him if they were ill?

Ha, ha. Good point! If my GP doesn't understand evolution better then I, perhaps it's time to shop around!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:37:00 UTC | #913188

Chica1's Avatar Comment 14 by Chica1

Refer him to a library, there are plenty of books available on the subject.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:38:59 UTC | #913190

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Comment 15 by cynicaloptimistrealist

As scary as this email looks. Medicine like every other profession varies from person to person and can vary to an amazing degree geographically.

I remember a deciding to visit my local casualty department because of a tournament injury didn't seem to have healed in 3 weeks. Even though my xray confirmed a shattered cheekbone which required surgery, a very pleasant French doctor sat me down explaining that my lack of healing was probably the result of my mental state, she then began a lecture on Dianetics at which point I threatened her with an official complaint and demanded to see a doctor who hadn't been playing in the class A cabinet.

I also had the misfortune of going to a traditional doctor in China. I had a cold which wasn't shifiting (probably more pollution related as during winter in Beihai if you kicked a ball you were in danger of getting it stuck in the sky), the kindly old lady next door suggested I try one of the traditional doctors at the local university. I had been to a local hospital before and was totally unimpressed with the way they did things - you explain your symptoms, they put you on a drip, if you ask what they are giving you they respond with "don't worry, it will make you better!", you feel slightly euphoric for an hour or so and the symptoms disappear for a while. This leads me to believe that the goal was to get people back on their feet quickly and out of the hospital without proper diagnosis.

So based on that experience I figured I'd give the traditional route a try. I arrived and was ushered into a room that looked more like a lecture theatre than a surgery, the receptionist had told me I was very lucky as the professor was on duty that day. I sat down opposite the professor, he asked me to stretch out my hand, asked me my date of birth and then spent the next 10 minutes examining my fingers. At first I thought "Wow this man is thorough, I hope he doesn't go over my whole body like this", he then opened the large leather bound book on his desk, furiously checking tables and writing on his prescription pad. After another extended look at my fingers he presented his diagnosis - I had an underlying liver problem which was caused by too much red meat, I seldom eat red meat and I never ate red meat in China. He gave me a prescription to take to a nearby dispensary, I went outside and sat down on a bench for a cigarette. In China anywhere you find benches and trees you will find gatherings of old men discussing the day's events, of course being probably the only foreigner in the city they asked me what the professor said, as I enquired about their health I realised that I had found the local "liver problems" support group which grew by the minute as another old man or woman exited the consultation room after a thorough finger examination.

So, in answer to your first question, considering the fact that many universities in Islamic countries have a strong theological component to their courses, he could quite easily be a medical doctor.

In answer to your second question, it really depends on the circumstances. If the cat was feeling ill and I couldn't reach the vet, I would probably reluctantly take her along to him. If I had a break or a bad cut I would probably allow him to set it or stitch it up, but if it was something more serious (maybe something that required investigation on a cellular level) and he was the only doctor on call, then I'd probably try a little harder to get hold of the vet.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:39:13 UTC | #913191

Mignostic's Avatar Comment 16 by Mignostic

  1. I think it's not implausible he is a doctor. I swear more than half of the pysicians I know are happy to treat illnesses of various kinds with sugar globuli that lack any active agent. One of them bluntly said, physicians mostly have no idea of how the human body works - they just try out therapies until one of them helps.

  2. I'd prefer other types but I would see him if I had no other option (with an alert mind about anything he says).

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:47:47 UTC | #913193

olg's Avatar Comment 17 by olg

Are you going to answer the questions in a serious manner?

If so, it would be interesting to read your reply.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:56:02 UTC | #913198

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat

2.Would anyone here consult him him if they were ill?

Only if the alternative was having to look at some chicken entrails.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 21:15:42 UTC | #913203

Barty77's Avatar Comment 19 by Barty77

  1. Does anyone here think he really is a medical doctor?
  2. Would anyone here consult him him if they were ill?
  1. I most certainly hope not.
  2. I'd be happier going to the chimp or gorilla.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 21:18:56 UTC | #913204

NealOKelly's Avatar Comment 20 by NealOKelly

In my experience the only "science" [most] medical doctors know is learned by rote. Clinicians generally make appalling experimental scientists. But that doesn't seem to stop them being good clinicians sometimes. I don't think it much matters if a nurse believes in God, provided s/he knows how to tie a bandage properly.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 21:37:37 UTC | #913211

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 21 by potteryshard

No to question 1. While local standards and cultural traditions may result in widely varying beliefs and skillsets, I find it hard to believe that someone become a qualified doctor without having attended at least a basic biology course at some point.

No to question 2. The best doctors struggle to keep up with the current science. When the 'doctor' in question is this far behind the times, he likely hasn't heard of asepsis or anaesthics either.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 21:51:51 UTC | #913217

YetAnotherSteve's Avatar Comment 22 by YetAnotherSteve

Just mail him back warning him that some lunatic pretending to be him has hacked his email and is sending out mails that could jeopardise his medical career.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:06:19 UTC | #913223

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 23 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

His 2nd question about why chimpanzees and gorillas aren't evolving into Homo Erectus seems to me to indicate that he is genuinely curious rather than dismissive. I've heard many otherwise intelligent and educated people in the UK (people who are not creationists, just ignorant about the exact nature of evolution) ask, "why are there still chimpanzees - why haven't they all evolved into humans?"

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:25:30 UTC | #913227

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 24 by Jonathan Dore

He could easily be real, and I get the impression he wants to learn and is positively looking for information that he probably doesn't know how to get anywhere else (he may have heard your name in relation to reports about the unfortunate man who was arrested recently in Indonesia for declaring his atheism, and so thinks you would be a safe person to ask). In any case, if you have time to answer him, there seems to be nothing to lose by treating his request as if it were real and seriously meant. Obviously he's not a fluent English speaker so the word complexity of your answer would have to be carefully controlled -- but you've just written a book that splendidly does just that, so that wouldn't be a problem.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:30:16 UTC | #913229

maria melo's Avatar Comment 25 by maria melo

When I was about 17 I read an article in an italian magazine with photographs of witchcraft by a woman that was a psychologist and after asked a professor of mine how could it be ? The explanation for it ( in the magazine) was: that she had been brought up in such a poor social surrounding that her cognitive structures were developed in that way. I guess, not everyone have the mindset of a scientist, such as Al Biruni, for instance, that about 1000 years ago knew the difference between science and pseudoscience, despite of the massive education of nowadays. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by incompetent people in every job, politicians for instance is what comes into my mind at first.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:34:52 UTC | #913231

andreasdhl's Avatar Comment 26 by andreasdhl

poor chap. forgive him for hes never really been taught otherwise

i think in this case we, and especially perhaps squire richard, will be wise to go easy. to be right is not always enough, sympathy (even for ignorance) is important too. its easy to forget that in all our intellectual irritation...


Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:44:44 UTC | #913236

blitz442's Avatar Comment 27 by blitz442

1.Do you think evolution still going on? 2.If you think that modern human was an ape, then why we have no see any ape (chimpanzee or gorilla) evolved to become homo erectus at the moment?

All joking aside, I think that many people genuinely doubt that evolution occurred because they cannot readily find answers to questions like these.

He is highlighting what appears to him to be an inconsistency. A person is told that evolution is acting all around us; it is never really "off". They are told that we are primates that share a recent common ancestor with other primates such as chimpanzees, and that a whole series of intermediate forms demonstrate the major changes that have occurred in our lineage in only a few million years.

Then, they read that homo sapiens have probably changed relatively little in the last 80,000-100,000 years. They read that some of our hominin ancestors, such as H. erectus, probably changed very little over their entire evolutionary history. They read that many species, the so-called living fossils, have exhibited very little change over vast expanses of geological time. Does evolution go through fits of activity and then take long breaks? Confusion arises as this seems to contradict the earlier claim that evolution is occurring all the time.

A clear answer should be readily available that reconciles the following facts:

  • There is no reason to believe that populations ever stop producing novel genes that increase the reproductive or survival success of the bearers, or that the rate of production of novel genes suddenly changes materially.

  • The filtering process of nonrandom selection of favorable variants never shuts off.

  • Despite this, evolution often seems to be an episodic and then conservative process, where many (most?) species, after an initial bout of rapid (relatively speaking) evolutionary change, do not exhibit much continuous change over their history or give rise to daughter species.

  • Tue, 31 Jan 2012 23:23:00 UTC | #913247

    cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Comment 28 by cynicaloptimistrealist

    On reflection I think a conversation with this person may be worthwhile. His English seems to fit patterns one sees in east Asia. Perhaps he has been given a very brief overview of evolution at university with the emphasis on it being a "theory" and he seeks clarity on the subject. It would be nice to see how such a dialogue progressed. Some might say that if he's a crank then it's a waste of time, but if he's genuine and truthfully seeking knowledge, then broadening his horizons in a gentle way and perhaps pointing him towards some good resources on the subject rather than simply telling him to go read a book which may or may not be available in his locality would be much more rewarding. If he is a crank then we have already wasted time discussing him, but if he is real then he deserves some praise for requesting assistance. We begin our time in complete ignorance, we do not grow in knowledge from books alone, for many of us it was the passionate parent, teacher or professor from whom we inherited our thirst for knowledge.

    Tue, 31 Jan 2012 23:28:10 UTC | #913251

    Viveca's Avatar Comment 29 by Viveca

    I very much doubt the questioner is sincere, but i'll assume, for the sake of argument that they are.

    I can imagine a child, in virtually any country on earth, sincerely asking some trusted authority figure the following question: Why, if the overwheliming majority of scientists agree that evolution by natural selection is true, is this alleged fact not widely publicised by all the dominant opinion-formers in each society?

    How is it possible to address this question honestly without necessarily depicting the mass of humanity as either infantile or tyrannical?

    The usual way to square this circle is to blame it all on the wicked rulers, who benifit from the ignorance of the pliant masses. But this itself is another lie. The masses go more than half way to meet the rulers in swallowing such baloney.

    Tue, 31 Jan 2012 23:52:09 UTC | #913257

    Starcrash's Avatar Comment 30 by Starcrash

    It's possible he's a medical doctor... being a doctor and being irrational aren't mutually exclusive. And I don't think I'd have a problem going to see him, because he's not necessarily a bad doctor just because he doesn't agree with science.

    And I do say "he doesn't agree" with science and not "he's ignorant" of science because the second question is not a search for knowledge, but rather a rebuttal to evolution. You answered both of these questions in The Greatest Show on Earth and of course could refer him to that book, but it's not likely that he'll read it... if he had any interest in studying evolution, he'd already know the answer to the first question; it's not a question that requires an answer from an expert.

    Wed, 01 Feb 2012 00:00:11 UTC | #913260