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Posts tagged “psychology

Assumption Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

“To think you know something is the most dangerous thing in the world.” Lao Tzu

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This is one of my favorite stories about assumption. . .

Waaaaaaaaay back in 1981, two doctors, Dr. Barry Marshall (internist) and Dr. Robin Warren (pathologist) from Australia said they had found the cause of stomach ulcers in people. But it wasn’t even close to the prevailing belief among doctors or the public as to what causes ulcers, which was “stress” of course. Seems our Australian doctors had the whacky idea that ulcers are caused by a bacteria (h. pylori). I remember when this first made the news – I also remember how they were ridiculed and called crazy, especially by other doctors. . . “Why, everyone knows high stress and poor diet causes ulcers. . .” Yes, everyone, including doctors, who are supposed to be scientists, at least in part, with open minds who evaluate physical evidence and facts in the interest of giving their patients better, healthier lives and preventing needless deaths. What’s more, Dr. Marshall and Dr. Warren also found this bacteria causes stomach cancer. Now keep in mind, even if there is no cancer, stomach and duodenal ulcers cause much pain and suffering, can result in having to remove a large portion of the stomach, and can be fatal. So this was not something to be taken lightly, even as many doctors kept saying that ulcers were really in people’s heads and if they would just relax more and eat better they would be just fine.

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Happily, Dr. Marshall did not give up. He couldn’t use mice to experiment in the lab, because h. pylori only affects primates. Regulations prohibited him from experimenting on people. So, a real hero, Dr. Marshall borrowed a cup of h. pylori from one of his patients and drank it, infecting himself. He followed the course of his own disease and biopsied his own stomach, proving conclusively that h. pylori causes stomach ulcers in people. (This, by the way, is the difference between thinking you know and actually knowing.) As a result of these doctors’ work, ulcers and stomach cancer claim far fewer lives in the industrialized world.

In 2005 (way too late, in my not-so-humble-opinion) Drs. Marshall and Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for their discovery.

But, one of the most amazing things about all this, to me, is how many people STILL believe stomach ulcers are caused by “stress”.

See here for a recent interview with Dr. Marshall.

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© Babaloo Bonzai and Babaloo Bonzai’s Zen Soup, 2010.


High Visibility Zen

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This post is about people you may know, from other media, who bring us excellent examples of zen principles and show us how they work in everyday life.

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Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear- Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things. This book is an unflinching look at reality, the reality of how one of the most powerful and primal human emotions – fear – is being used to sell us everything from newspapers to burglar alarms, and to get us to vote for some very questionable people. If you are interested in REALITY you will love this book. It will probably make you angry, make you feel better, and tell you some very interesting things you probably didn’t know.

From the cover of the book: “In the age of terrorism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, financial collapse, Amber Alerts, and vaccine scares, our society is defined by fear. But are we living in exceptionally dangerous times? In The Culture of Fear, sociologist Barry Glassner demonstrates that it is our perception  of danger that has increased, not the actual level of risk. Glassner exposes the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears, including advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases and politicians who win elections by heightening concerns about crime, drug use, and terrorism. In this enlarged and updated edition of a classic bestseller—more relevant now than when it was first published—Glassner reveals the price we pay for social panic.”

2003 Interview with Barry Glassner

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Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer- Week after week, Mr. Milan patiently, compassionately, intelligently, and sensitively reminds us that dogs are dogs, not people. He shows us that treating dogs like people are bound to cause problems, for both our dogs and ourselves. Week after week, the people he helps with their dogs are happily surprised at how well treating a dog like a dog works. Often as I am watching his television show I wonder how many dogs he has kept from being needlessly euthanized or given up to rescue organizations. The relief and happiness of the dog owners is obvious. He exemplifies zen leadership; stressing reality and balance, always remaining calm, patient, and a “firm correctness.” In his own words,  “I rehabilitate dogs, I train people.” And lucky for those of us who love and live with dogs, he does it very well.

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© Babaloo Bonzai and Babaloo Bonzai’s Zen Soup, 2010.