Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Medical Journals

I asked Gary Mawyer to comment on these words by Theodore Dalrymple. His response follows the quotation.

"A considerable proportion, if not an outright majority, of the medical profession is of conservative cast of mind: politically, that is, not technically. Perhaps a close and continuous acquaintance with human nature at its limits renders doctors, if not cynical exactly, at least circumspect about the prospects for human perfectibility. It is surprising, then, that the major medical journals these days, edited entirely by doctors, are riddled with—I almost said rotted by—political correctness. It isn't easy to define political correctness with precision, but it is easy to recognize when it is present. It acts on me as the sound, when I was a child, of a teacher's nail scraping down a blackboard because his piece of chalk was too short: it sends shivers down my spine. It is the attempt to reform thought by making certain things unsayable; it is also the conspicuous, not to say intimidating, display of virtue (conceived of as the public espousal of the 'correct,' which is to say 'progressive,' views) by means of a purified vocabulary and abstract humane sentiment. To contradict such sentiment, or not to use such vocabulary, is to put yourself outside the pale of civilized men (or should I say persons?)."—Theodore Dalrymple

I think medical sorts are indeed of a conservative cast of mind. However, this no longer translates politically. Republican damage to the industry started to swing even the better paid medicos over, about midway through Clinton's presidency. I don't know what standing I have to speak generally, but there are hardly any Republican or GOP-leaning individuals left among the people I work with around the country now. In the 1980s even the Democrats were Reagan-leaning (can we call them "no-taxation hopefuls"?). It still remains true, however, that the cast of mind is conservative, and I believe a certain realism about human nature and life in general does help feed this.

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