Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Helping Others Feel Better

Originally posted on August 11, 2015

In the aforementioned Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. book, “Cat’s Cradle,” there is another quote that asserts the priority of encounter, human help, over mere, dry, facts as we believe them to be. One of the characters, a Doctor von Koenigswald, in Chapter 98, page 148, says, “I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to help a human being feel better, even if it’s unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.”

It’s a swipe at the religion of “science.” Many scientists use science for some things but not for others, but Vonnegut is right that some sort of mindlessly fall back into the criteria of evidence to believe anything, which is foolish. It’s (proverbially) putting “all your eggs in one basket.” There are many things that are not evidence-based that enrich our lives.

In the field of medical practice, I like to quote Sir William Osler, who said that the job of the physician is to cure, rarely; to ameliorate, occasionally; and to comfort, always.”

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