Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Alan Alda wants scientists to cut out the jargon
Associated Press ^ | May 1, 2013 3:21 PM EDT | Frank Eltman

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. …

“There’s no reason for the jargon when you’re trying to communicate the essence of the science to the public, because you’re 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 ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Chit/Chat; Health/Medicine; Science
KEYWORDS: alanalda; jargon; mash; medicine
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-59 next last

1 posted on 05/01/2013 12:44:00 PM PDT by Olog-hai
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Ha ha — I read this one after I read the two great jokes below and found it almost as funny. Hey Alda give your speech to the script writers — not the doctors.


2 posted on 05/01/2013 12:47:36 PM PDT by bunster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bunster

I’m a doc and I have to say that I agree with Alda on this.

Only thing is no one needs to “teach” anybody anything. Docs just need to have the time to be able to sit down, look folks in the eye and communicate in simple English appropriate to the patients understanding.

Everyone knows how to do this; obviously Alda’s docs have chosen to confuse him with medical jargon- maybe they thought he was really Hawkeye?


3 posted on 05/01/2013 12:54:50 PM PDT by Clarence
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai
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.

They already do that. Schools just aren't bothering to teach latin anymore.
4 posted on 05/01/2013 12:55:48 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Every High Priesthood MUST have its own hidden language, known only to the cognoscenti, to reinforce its image of being far, far above the plain of mere mortals and thus deserving of deferential and lucrative treatment.

SOME technical language is necessary in nearly every skilled field. However, if you cannot (or will not) communicate with those outside your chosen specialty, you are either not fully educated or else arrogant.

This applies to medical doctors, computer programmers and plumbers alike.


5 posted on 05/01/2013 12:56:02 PM PDT by BwanaNdege ("To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize"- Voltaire)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Next he’ll be wanting lawyers to write contracts in plain English...


6 posted on 05/01/2013 12:56:26 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”


7 posted on 05/01/2013 12:56:40 PM PDT by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai; All

[And scientists wanted Alan Alda to cut out many of those lame medical jokes on MASH, but they didn’t have any impact there, either]


8 posted on 05/01/2013 12:59:07 PM PDT by Colofornian (Jude 3: "...I felt compelled to write and urge you to CONTEND for the faith that was once for all")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Colofornian

But he’s the “Yankee Doodle Doctor.”


9 posted on 05/01/2013 1:00:02 PM PDT by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: bunster

The biggest joke of all is that doctors routinely explain things in plain English if they explain at all. Alda had to shop this drivel around for years until he found a school Stony Brook that would bankroll his last ditch desperate effort at retaining his career. Funny the only example he could give was one that showed there is really no problem.


10 posted on 05/01/2013 1:00:14 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Right, just call it what it is, a pooppipeconnectomy.


11 posted on 05/01/2013 1:00:39 PM PDT by JTHomes (28th: Congress shall make no law respecting economics , or prohibiting the free exercise of markets)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clarence
When a Dr. tells me something like this, I just say Dr. tell me in terms I can understand. I didn't spend the amount of money you did to learn what those terms mean. He laughs and tells me in terms I can understand. Not really difficult to get them to do this. A doctor tends to tell things in language he deals with, often forgetting his patient doesn't have a clue as to what he is talking about.

My other favorite comeback is, is that good or bad and if bad how long do I have?

12 posted on 05/01/2013 1:01:34 PM PDT by Robert DeLong (u)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: dfwgator

A Mrs. Kotter episode.


13 posted on 05/01/2013 1:02:15 PM PDT by ConservativeStatement (Obama is the "Disco Duck" president. A no-substance novelty that reached number one.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Alan Alda? Another comedy routine.....Alda The Teacher...Guy must be outta work.


14 posted on 05/01/2013 1:02:45 PM PDT by count-your-change (you don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hinckley buzzard

That “jargon” is extremely descriptive and dumbing it down may not be the wisest way to deal with it.

The patients themselves have a little responsibility to learn about their issues and treatments.


15 posted on 05/01/2013 1:02:48 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

I’m entitled to bite off Alan Alda’s left ear.


16 posted on 05/01/2013 1:03:12 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg (Blather. Reince. Repeat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai
He's not a doctor, but he played one on TV.
17 posted on 05/01/2013 1:03:34 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to behead anyone who says otherwise.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BwanaNdege
I agree to some degree. But one man’s jargon can be an educational opportunity to the curious.
18 posted on 05/01/2013 1:04:22 PM PDT by stayathomemom (Beware of kittens modifying your posts.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Maybe he can convince his “fans” in DC to distill the 2,000+ page Obamacare Law into something understandable...


19 posted on 05/01/2013 1:06:15 PM PDT by mikrofon (Actually, we DO understand it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clarence
After I got hurt, and they were just starting to put me under, the ER doc installed the fiber optic scope near my belly button and said "Wow, he's f***ed".

That was an explanation I could understand, even while I was fading out. ;)

/johnny

20 posted on 05/01/2013 1:06:48 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

He should stop worrying. Pretty soon most doctors won’t speak English.


21 posted on 05/01/2013 1:09:46 PM PDT by donna (Pray for revival.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clarence
"I’m a doc and I have to say that I agree with Alda on this."

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.

22 posted on 05/01/2013 1:11:00 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

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.


23 posted on 05/01/2013 1:11:25 PM PDT by OpusatFR
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

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.


24 posted on 05/01/2013 1:12:53 PM PDT by Terry L Smith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai; Clarence

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


25 posted on 05/01/2013 1:13:07 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

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?


26 posted on 05/01/2013 1:13:35 PM PDT by Skywise
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stayathomemom

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.


27 posted on 05/01/2013 1:14:10 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Clarence

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?


28 posted on 05/01/2013 1:15:11 PM PDT by Boogieman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

29 posted on 05/01/2013 1:16:42 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

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.


30 posted on 05/01/2013 1:18:24 PM PDT by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

In other words, they need to perform a jargondeectanectomy.


31 posted on 05/01/2013 1:20:21 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Skywise

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.


32 posted on 05/01/2013 1:22:11 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai
Most replies on this thread deal with doctors but this goes on across the professional spectrum.

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.

33 posted on 05/01/2013 1:23:10 PM PDT by what's up
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Colonel_Flagg

How about an aldaectomy


34 posted on 05/01/2013 1:23:37 PM PDT by glyptol
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai
Ask a cosmologist something simple like "What's the shape of the universe?" and he'll tell you it's too naive a question.

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?

35 posted on 05/01/2013 1:23:57 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

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?


36 posted on 05/01/2013 1:25:49 PM PDT by paterfamilias
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hinckley buzzard

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.


37 posted on 05/01/2013 1:28:41 PM PDT by radiohead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: JoeProBono

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.


38 posted on 05/01/2013 1:28:51 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: radiohead

My grandmother always has one of my aunts or uncles go with her to the doctor.


39 posted on 05/01/2013 1:30:41 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

Does he want it clear and concise like the Obamacommiecare bill?


40 posted on 05/01/2013 1:31:31 PM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

"Right, kick ass. Well, don't want to sound like a dick or nothin', but, ah... it says on your chart that you're f----d up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your s--t's all retarded. What I'd do, is just like... like... you know, like, you know what I mean, like..."

41 posted on 05/01/2013 1:32:16 PM PDT by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BwanaNdege

Every High Priesthood MUST have its own hidden language, known only to the cognoscenti, to reinforce its image of being far, far above the plain of mere mortals and thus deserving of deferential and lucrative treatment.

SOME technical language is necessary in nearly every skilled field. However, if you cannot (or will not) communicate with those outside your chosen specialty, you are either not fully educated or else arrogant.

This applies to medical doctors, computer programmers and plumbers alike.

You forgot Lawyers in that list as well as accountants.


42 posted on 05/01/2013 1:34:46 PM PDT by GraceG
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

43 posted on 05/01/2013 1:38:28 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

“Ah, Bach.”


44 posted on 05/01/2013 1:41:33 PM PDT by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JoeProBono

Gilgamesh, a king. Gilgamesh, a king. At Uruk. He tormented his subjects. He made them angry. They cried out aloud, “Send us a companion for our king! Spare us from his madness!” Enkidu, a wild man... from the forest, entered the city. They fought in the temple. They fought in the streets. Gilgamesh defeated Enkidu. They became great friends. Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk.


45 posted on 05/01/2013 1:42:36 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: onedoug

“I’m partial to the fugue.”


46 posted on 05/01/2013 1:43:43 PM PDT by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

47 posted on 05/01/2013 1:46:37 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Clarence
end-to-end anastomosis.

I'm not a doc and have never heard of this, although I have actually had the procedure performed on me.

48 posted on 05/01/2013 1:48:08 PM PDT by Graybeard58 (_.. ._. .. _. _._ __ ___ ._. . ___ ..._ ._ ._.. _ .. _. .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

BFL


49 posted on 05/01/2013 2:08:54 PM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Olog-hai

in other words...I am too stupid to ask you what you mean so please dumb it down for me....he is an actor after all


50 posted on 05/01/2013 2:15:01 PM PDT by Nifster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-59 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson