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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

When did you wish a person or people were a little less educated?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16563points) May 31st, 2016

As the old cliche says, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

It is a constant struggle in my line of work to explain medical procedures to people that have consulted Dr Google, and think they know what they’re talking about. They read something that is true, but take it completely out of context. It would be easier if they understood what I do as a professional, or if they knew nothing at all. Knowing just a little makes the interaction much more challenging.

When have you wished someone knew less than what they did, or was a bit less well educated?

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23 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I have never wished people were less educated. I wish people were more educated.

But the scenario described in the question is not a matter of education but rather a misguided belief that people think they know better. They do not ”...know just a little…,” they know nothing, but think they know something.

We need more education, and a lot more humility.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Never. I know docs probably hate google because the internet is simply flooded with bullshit about medical conditions, cures, cautions etc… That is not really related to education. The more educated people are the more they will be able to navigate through B.S.

ibstubro's avatar

It’s not education that’s the issue, it’s communication skills. Empathy, even. The ability to put yourself on the same level of understanding as the least informed person in the conversation.

The most informed person has to seek a level plain of understanding. It may be equal to the least informed person’s level, or it may be below that.

Seek's avatar

I’ve never been in this position.

My husband has, though, with coworkers and new employees. He works in specialty construction, and takes pride in his work, doing things the hard way because it’s the right way to do it and consistently gets the best results.

He has the hardest time with new workers who “have experience” doing things the easy way, cutting corners, etc. They are often unwilling to listen to instructions, and revert to bad habits the second the supervisor turns their back. This leads to hubby himself having to fix their mistakes, costing the company time and money.

Hubby prefers to hire people with absolutely no experience in the field, so he can teach them the right way the first time and head off arguments and call-backs at the start.

marinelife's avatar

Never. As for dealing with patients, perhaps you should be glad that they care about their health and take responsibility for doing a little research.

May I suggest getting one of these and displaying its message while gesturing with it as you explain stuff.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m sure a lot of people in the medical profession have wished this. I am one of those patients who have a little knowledge, but not enough. One thing I worry about are things like unnecessary procedures and radiation and dying during or after a surgery. Tied up with this is insurance companies wanting the cheapest option, not necessarily the ideal option, and doctors going with what insurance dictates without even asking the patient if they want to pay for the more expensive, more desirable option.

Because of all of that I don’t trust, I ask questions, and I want an explanation. So, with people like me you have to take the time to explain why and what you’re doing. Probably, the doctor should be the one answering the questions, because they are writing the order, but they don’t always know the right answer. Sometimes, I do wish I was ignorant. Believe me. It’s a les stressful place to be. Then I have my husband tell me two days ago about this news show he is watching and this woman didn’t get diagnosed until the 5th doctor she saw. He started telling me her symptoms, and I diagnosed her before he finished. Seriously?! That is so scary to me.

As far as me wishing others were less educated, I’ve never been in that situation. I’ve been in the situation where a relative or friend or even a doctor was told something, or going by an old hypothesis or even working theory, and they were running with it, but what they needed was more education on the topic to understand it better, or to know their preliminary thought process was incomplete or incorrect.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

When I was in college? Yes. Now? No. The reason for that selfish desire is that it was very competitive to earn score and to rank high in class so I hope that some students don’t study the night before or experience some personal problems that inhibit their studies. It sounds cruel but students in my college fought with tooth and claws for score so I think a little bit of selfish hope isn’t that bad. People mustn’t be less educated as it’s deeply correlated with open-mindedness. Knowledge will breed better life.

It seems like you dislike the idea of your patients challenging you. As a good and fair professional you should accept the fact that not every medication (including yours) will work on every patients, that the effect of every treatment could be paradoxical, that your patient who doubt your technique wish to ensure themselves by challanging you with questions/findings, and that other doctors could have said different things.

Rather than hoping that they’re less educated (so that they’ll just believe and do what you said) you can try to answer their questions/challenges and win their hearts. An understanding and intelligent professional is someone who will be trusted by patients for long time.

This reminds me of my college time when when I challenged a professor’s opinion which he refused to argue back or explain and simply said “My answer is right because I’m a professor, understand?”. I wish I could dump him in cold water for such arrogant behaviour. I don’t give other people the advantage just because they claimed to be professional or how much titles they have. I analyze every action they make to see whether or not it makes sense.

Jeruba's avatar

The quote is actually a line from a poem by Alexander Pope, and it says, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Not quite the same thing.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

They read something that is true, but take it completely out of context. It would be easier if they understood what I do as a professional, or if they knew nothing at all.
Ummm…..they must be Flutheronians, that seems to happen often here on certain subjects. I don’t know if I would say I want them less educated, they seem to be that enough, more would be worse, but more apt to use logic or comprehend better. It is like an electrician trying to speak to a plumber who thinks he is an electrician, but trying to use electrical logic to finding the clog or leak and when told it won’t simply try to say plumbing is just faulty. Having them less educated would only work if they knew nothing whatsoever, and was open to what is being said to them especially by one who knows more on the subject than they do.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Plumbing-electrical analogies are common and often help non electrical types understand electricity. People here are much more educated on average, even some of the self study geeks here are more well read than professionals I work with daily.

cazzie's avatar

Knowledge is one thing, but I think you are talking about hubris. Thinking you know it all because you read something on the net and being unwilling to listen to someone with more knowledge or more experience in a subject.

ibstubro's avatar

As I said above, @Hypocrisy_Central, communication skills are perhaps more important than level of education.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Thanks @Jeruba for correcting the quote.

The common theme in the responses here seems to be that knowledge needs to be tempered with humility. I completely agree. I feel I should elaborate on my example though.

When I bring a patient into an x-ray room, it is common for them to ask me about the risks of radiation. They’ve heard that radiation can cause cancer, but I can usually explain to them how minute the risk is, and they are generally ok to progress with the examination. However, I once worked with a surgeon who decided that since the risk is small, it might as well be nothing. So he went into theatres without wearing any lead protection. He thought he understood radiation, and even carried out a poorly formulated experiment to prove his point. I soon stopped caring whether or not he protected himself, because he had made a (poorly informed) conscious choice.

In this case, educating him would have taken hours that he would not spare. If he were a little more ignorant regarding radiation safety, he may have been more likely to take my word for it. But because he knew a little more than the average non-medical person, he thought he understood. So I wished he was a little less educated on the topic, because wishing he was educated enough was unrealistic.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh You just reinforced why I don’t trust doctors. Radiation is high on my list as something doctors don’t think twice about. I’m so grateful I refused X-rays a lot in my life, because I was scanned from head to pelvis after an accident, and I would have refused the abdominal and pelvic if I had known they were going to do it. I’m still upset about it. When I was in my 20’s I had a lot of X-rays on an old machine, I wish I had thought to ask to go to a diagnostic center with newer equipment (assuming it would have been a lower dose of radiation). I went ahead with X-rays of my shoulder during an ER visit, and when I asked for thyroid protection they didn’t have it. They didn’t have it. They didn’t have it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie It is a huge topic. Some doctors don’t care about it, and will CT a person just to cover their arse legally. Others care too much, and make poor clinical decisions because of it. I used to deal with one GP that would ask for sinus x-rays instead of CTs, when the CT would give vastly more accuracy and detail with a relatively small dose penalty. Again, he refused to listen to the experts because he knew a little too much.

I’m just glad I work in paediatrics now. Our staff are amongst the best, and since radiation sensitivity is greater in younger people, we can be a little more forceful in recommending the correct examination for the clinical presentation.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Is a CT necessary to see a spinal fracture? After an accident? Or, are simple flat x-rays (that’s what I call them, I don’t know the real terminology) enough?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie It depends. In the neck, most doctors will want a CT scan to assess stability, even if the fracture has been seen on an x-ray. The neck is a highly mobile structure, and if it is compromised by a fracture, the outcome can be bad. In the lumbar spine, it depends on the severity. Small fractures may not be seen on x-ray, and large ones may need further assessment with CT anyway. But often an x-ray is enough. CT scans of the thoracic spine should be done sparingly, as the rib cage provides a lot of stability, making fractures there less dangerous (assuming no ribs were broken in the accident). Sometimes they are necessary though, depending on presentation.

Most hospitals here will order imaging based on a combination of clinical presentation and accident mechanism. For example, casualties of every accident over 60km/h will get a CT of the cervical spine. But remember after an accident they’re not only looking at the spine. Abdominal organs can suffer quite a bit of damage in an accident.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I was ok with the neck and thoracic CT because the major impact was my chest. What I was so upset about was my tummy, ovaries, colon (history of colon cancer in my family, and I have a personal history of polyps) when I had no real sign of severe damage to that region. They did those with dye to evaluate if I had any bleeds the way I understand it, but I would have refused that test had I known. I waited 3 hours for the CT in the first place, just to give you an idea. My girlfriend in the same accident had a CT within 20 minutes of arrival to the hospital. She had a head injury. They missed her bleed, which was found days later.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie I can understand your point of view, but as I’m sure you can understand, I can’t criticise such decisions without having all the information available at the time. Clinical decision making isn’t often clear cut.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Sure, I understand. It would be impossible for you to make a judgement about whether you would recommend a scan over the internet, even if I described my condition in full detail. Describing wouldn’t be as good as actually observing me at the time.

I so appreciate your willingness to answer general questions. I think my scans were a combo of CYA and I have insurance. But, I have a huge deductible, so I pay. I’m not overly concerned about the money, it’s the radiation.

ibstubro's avatar

In the age of Donald Trump, US Presidential Candidate, it’s hard for me to credit wishing anyone was a little less educated.

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