I got my blood test back today. As I suspected, my cholesterol is high again. It's definitely time to get serious about shedding those extra pounds. As I listened to the doctor discuss options, I realized, as I so often do, that he's read less on the options than I have. This is pretty typical. I've had dozens of doctors in my life, but I don't get the sense that any of the people were true experts. At best, they would state some correct (but very obvious) facts--the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on the subject basically. Often, they would misdiagnose me or have me do expensive tests which didn't seem to be looked at by anybody.
Medicine is a science and good science works a bit like good magic. When the magician does something, it's impressive because the onlookers don't understand it--and can't understand it because of their faulty way of looking at things. Good science is the same--the scientist has a methodology that enables him to peer into a reality that normally remains invisible. A good doctor should be able to tell me things about myself that I, as a complete lay-person, can't know. But the truth is--if you give me a little time with Wikipedia and a few basic medical articles (perhaps a few metastudies from Yahoo Scholar) and give me the ability to order tests, I'm pretty sure that I could do everything my doctors do with same level of error. For some reason, American medicine (or at least, the medicine available to median wage-earners like myself) is producing few scientists and few healers. On the bright side, America's exorbitantly priced and low-quality medical system is giving me plenty of motivation to take care of my own health.