28 May 2009


We had lunch with WK after visiting a friend at his hospital. He mentioned how the administrators overreacted to the flu outbreak and frightened the patients away. Of course, this was nothing compared to the Metropark Hotel quarantine by our government. Somehow, these overreactions reminded me of a rather irrelevant story.

Some years ago, a professor of economics complained that university students only copied notes during lectures but did not listen to his message. To illustrate his point, he wrote ‘Mary has a little lamb’ on the whiteboard along with the other lecture notes. Sure enough, most students copied the meaningless sentence in their notebooks.

When the professor shared this experience, a colleague picked up the argument jokingly. “When you do not understand something in a lesson, shouldn’t you copy it down first?”

I would not be judgmental about doing something or pretending to be doing something when there is uncertainty, but I always find Szeto’s advice on clinical practice useful. “If what you do works, continue it. If what you do does not work, stop it. If you do not know anything, don’t do anything.”

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