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On Listening and Learning

The occasion was a recent picnic and my discussion with a pharmacist began well. I mentioned that I have often consulted pharmacists about prescription medicines’ side effects and interactions and that experience had led me to study such matters myself. Along the way, I said, I’ve learned that some doctors pay little attention to patients’ reactions to medications.

For some reason she seemed upset by that statement and dismissed it, saying “The great majority of side effects are minor, and the serious ones tend to occur only in a small percentage of cases.” What an odd response from a pharmacist, I thought; it sounds more like something from a pharmaceutical pamphlet implying that suffering is less real or problematic if it occurs infrequently.Read More


Refusing to Listen Can Be Costly

Woman covering earsWhen little children don’t want to hear what they are being told, they put their hands over their ears and repeat, “I’m not listening” to further drown out the unwanted message. Such behavior is not very charming in children and much less so in adults, particularly in people who hold important positions.

Recently I was speaking with the executive director of a company I do business with.… Read More


Ignorance in America

Narcissism, 7907592_mStreet interviews have been a staple on TV since Steve Allen’s original Tonight Show. One reason for their success is that they reveal the depth of people’s ignorance. Lately, more and more, it seems like a bottomless pit.

I’m thinking of cases where people can’t name a single U.S. Senator or explain the term “Bill of Rights,” don’t know where or what Crimea is, and are unable to recognize Vice President Biden’s picture even though they immediately recognize Justin Bieber’s.… Read More


Thinking Deficiency Syndrome

Back of Head with LightbulbNever heard of Thinking Deficiency Syndrome (TDS)? That’s not surprising. I just invented the term and the acronym because a condition that is approaching epidemic proportions deserves an important-sounding name.

You may know TDS by an older, currently anathema name: stupidity. But whatever we call this affliction, it is increasingly on display among politicians, business leaders, educators, our families, our friends, and even (gasp!) ourselves.… Read More