Skip to comments.Alan Alda wants scientists to cut out the jargon
Posted on 05/01/2013 12:44:00 PM PDT by Olog-hai
Among the procedures Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce performed on M.A.S.H. was an end-to-end anastomosis. Most of the viewers, actor Alan Alda concedes, had no idea he was talking about removing a damaged piece of intestine and reconnecting the healthy pieces.
Today, the award-winning film and television star is on a mission to teach physicians, physicists and scientists of all types to ditch the jargon and get their points across in clear, simple language.
Theres no reason for the jargon when youre trying to communicate the essence of the science to the public, because youre talking what amounts to gibberish to them, Alda said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
A better understanding of science, Alda said, can benefit society in ways great and small. Physicians can more clearly explain treatments to patients. Consumers can decipher what chemicals may be in their food. And lawmakers can make better decisions on funding scientific research.
(Excerpt) Read more at hosted.ap.org ...
He should stop worrying. Pretty soon most doctors won’t speak English.
I agree in as much as it's nice to have a doc who can relate to laymen on familiar terms, but it sounds like Aldo is on a newspeak crusade to overhaul the language.
Professional jargon is like the free market; terms that are more precise and efficient for a given discipline will become common vernacular in those fields and have little meaning to those external to it. If the use of those terms makes the practitioners of those trades more effective and efficent, I'm all for it.
Frankly, if I was diagnosed with an unusual or complicated medical condition, I'd do everything within my power to become as much of a subject matter expert on it so that I could better communicate with the technician (physician) I had engaged to help me get through it. I don't hire mechanics to explain to me how they are going to fix my car; I just want them to fix it. It's up to me to know enough about my car and how it works so that when they explain to me what they're going to do, and (more importantly) what it's going to cost, I'll know if it makes sense or not.
What he doesn’t understand is that in many instances, the scientific language has been reduced to its simplest form to discuss very complex things and concepts and ideas.
That the idea is complex is not reducible to a commonality that everyone can understand.
Not everything can be parsed to fit “Dancing with the Stars,” or Hollywood’s idea of a medical show.
Medical language was born out of the Greek language, not out of some Hollywood pinhead!
alan alda (in small caps) witherred into TV rerunland, when the only claim he had, ceased.
He’s a leftist loon but there is some merit in this effort. I worked with a fellow who was having some bowel disorder. I didn’t inquire too deeply into the matter but it was clear he was parroting what his doctor told him. I know that he misheard some of it because he kept referring to his ass-ending colon
Uh... Alan? Don’t be an idiot...
The doctors use “big words you don’t understand” because they’re generally using Latin terms because Latin is a *static* language whose words don’t change over time. This is because doctors and scientists in general need exacting terms to alleviate confusion otherwise misinterpretations can occur.
I mean, really, you’re not in support of dumbing down the language... Right?
My vet likes the fact that I actually make an attempt to understand and learn what she’s talking about. She says I’m the type of person who doesn’t sue because I never let her do anything without a clear understanding of what’s going on.
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Homer, I’m afraid you’ll have to undergo a coronary bypass operation.
Homer Simpson: Say it in English, Doc!
Dr. Julius Hibbert: You’re going to need open-heart surgery.
Homer Simpson: Spare me your medical mumbo jumbo!
Dr. Julius Hibbert: We’re going to cut you open and tinker with your ticker.
Homer Simpson: Could you dumb it down a shade?
I have a lot of experience with hospitals, Doctors and numerous surgeries. Never, did one Doctor hesitate to explain something if I didn’t understand it. If you graduated high school, you should be able to understand what a Doctor is telling you, it’s not that hard and it’s up to you to ask the Doctor.
Too many people go to the Doctor’s office, he asks how are you doing and most people say OK. If you have a problem, it’s not up to the Doctor to get a psychic to figure out what your problem is; tell him why you’re there and trust me, no matter what you say, the Doctor is not going to be embarrassed, he’s probably done many prostate exams so he’s probably seen it all unless you’re a ‘box’ patient.
These are patients that show up at the ER with a box over their genitals and something on them that won’t come off. I have a relative who is an RN who has some hilarious stories about things like that. No gerbils though.
In other words, they need to perform a jargondeectanectomy.
Doc Holliday: In vino veritas.
[”In wine is truth” meaning: “When I’m drinking, I speak my mind”]
Johnny Ringo: Age quod agis.
[”Do what you do” meaning: “Do what you do best”]
Doc Holliday: Credat Judaeus apella, non ego.
[”The Jew Apella may believe it, not I” meaning: “I don’t believe drinking is what I do best.”]
Johnny Ringo: [pats his gun] Eventus stultorum magister.
[”Events are the teachers of fools” meaning: “Fools have to learn by experience”]
Doc Holliday: [gives a Cheshire cat smile] In pace requiescat.
[”Rest in peace” meaning: “It’s your funeral!”]
Tombstone Marshal Fred White: Come on boys. We don’t want any trouble in here. Not in any language.
Especially egregious as we know are the high-priests of environmental "science" who likely invent new terms just to keep the hoi-polloi out of their domain.
Actually, they are terrified that they are going to be found out that they are not purveyors of truth but lies and their life-long quest for fame and money is going to be shattered.
How about an aldaectomy
But if they can't even tell you what the universe kinda sorta looks like then are they even trying to communicate to the rest of us?
There is a difference between precise technical language and jargon.
So, the thigh bone is precisely called femur, and a heart attack is precisely called myocardial infarction.
Because laymen’s terms are not precise, they can lead to confusion: a “stroke” includes cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral embolism, cerebral thrombosis, transient ischemic attack, and similar events in other parts of the brain, e.g., brainstem, thalamus, etc. So, doctor-to-doctor, we try to use very precise terms so that the patient’s condition is clearly and compactly expressed and understood.
Jargon is usually the use of common words in an uncommon way - interestingly, the “uncommon way” is often the original meaning of the word.
For example, in medicine, we use the word “attend” to mean “to pay attention” (the original Latin meaning) and “articulate” to describe how joints fit together (again, from the original Latin). These usages simply represent the way doctors are trained to talk to each other with precision.
Now, Mr. Alda is correct inasmuch as we should be trained to speak to patients in terms that are precise and understandable. Usually this means translating the terms for the patient, for example:
“Your wife had a thrombotic stroke in the distribution of the left middle cerebral artery - that means that this artery (pointing to a picture) developed a blockage in the artery the feeds blood to the part of the brain that can affect speech and motion of the right side of the body. This is not the type of stroke that is caused by bleeding or by a clot that travelled from the heart.”
No do you see why “thrombotic Left MCA CVA” is the term that doctors use when speaking to other doctors?
I go to a university health system. They always ask how you would like to receive your information - in writing, have someone talk to you, in a different language, with someone with you, etc.
If there is a problem with doctors not speaking in plain English, it’s my contention that it’s the patient’s fault for not demanding an explanation they can understand. I know a number of elderly people who will not confront the doctor at all, but wait until they get home and ask their grown children to explain things.
Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
My grandmother always has one of my aunts or uncles go with her to the doctor.
Does he want it clear and concise like the Obamacommiecare bill?
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