5 Aug 2010


My recent bedtime reading is What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. This is a collection of his writing from The New Yorker. I seldom read this kind of recycled publications, but the temptation is too great after enjoying his famous books previously – The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.

While flipping through the pages and wondering whether to buy the book, a few lines in the preface touched me. Gladwell mentioned he was often asked where his ideas came from. If you have read his books, you would probably agree that he is a wizard in suggesting interesting answers to explain everyday phenomena. So how did he do it? He explained that most people considered most things uninteresting. What he did was to convince himself everyone has a story to tell.

This is no different from scientific research. At the end of the nineteenth century, scientists have studied thoroughly many areas of the physical world – electricity, optics, kinetics, to name a few. Many wise men held the belief that there was not much left to study in science. Looking back, we of course know how wrong they were. Relativity, quarks and DNA are just some examples of major breakthroughs that they have never imagined.

In clinical medicine, I have repeatedly heard youngsters complaining the ‘big’ questions have all been answered. Their view is certainly shared by many people in history, but so far all of them were proved to be wrong. If you are not satisfied with current beliefs and keep asking questions, well, the world is an interesting place after all.

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