Sunday, December 28, 2008

We are lucky!

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

...we didn't arrive by spaceship, we arrived by being born, and we didn't burst conscious into the world but accumulated awareness gradually through babyhood. The fact that we gradually apprehend our world, rather than sudddenly discovering it, should not subtract from its wonder."
Richard Dawkins

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Anything Good About Men?

Some of you may know that recently I have been studying evolution theory more thoroughly! I think that our knowledge about mechanism of evolution gives us better understanding of our psychology and behaviors, biology and even social and cultural issues. Probably it is not a "must" for surgeons but it is the effect of my distracted mind!

While ago I had a conversation with a friend who told me that he read somewhere that there is greater proportion of men at both extremes of the IQ distribution! Some studies have shown that there is greater variance in the performance of men compared to that of women (i.e., men are more represented at the extremes of performance).

I know that this is a sensitive topic and if you remember former president of Harvard University and possible candidate for Obama's treasury secretary, Larry Summers had to resign after his comment( link) about difference between sexes in terms of intelligence! Apparently, his comments were politically incorrect!

The question is that what if there was a difference! I believe that we need to carefully interpret available evidence! I disagree with this idea that science should not have any word in construction of morality and social frameworks. I think that we have been able to make significant progress to resolve controversial issues such as abortion, stem cell research and end of life because of our secular approach founded in scientific knowledge!

I came across this speech by Roy F. Baumeister in American Psychological Association in 2007. He is professor of psychology at Florida state university. I enjoyed reading his speech.It was thought provoking! I thought you might enjoy it too. In his introduction he says that "I don't want to be on anybody's side. Gender warriors please go home."

It seems that most of us think that men are in charge of everything! Too obvious to be missed! But he says that there is a flaw in this conclusion! Because we look at the top! If you look at the bottom of the society, you will see mostly men are there too! criminals, prisoners! If there are big male winners, there are big losers too!

I let you read the whole paper but I would like to quote few parts that I found very interesting! They are about relationship and social roles!

"Women favor close, intimate relationships. These are if anything more important for the survival of the species. That's why human women evolved first. We need those close relationships to survive. The large networks of shallower relationships aren't as vital for survival — but they are good for something else, namely the development of larger social systems and ultimately for culture"

I hope this help my friends who are complaining about their partners! Why men are not committed! That's genetic!! If it is natural for women, men need to actively overcome their shallowness!

I think many of us will have trouble with the following statement. But it is worth thinking:

"the reason for the emergence of gender inequality may have little to do with men pushing women down in some dubious patriarchal conspiracy. Rather, it came from the fact that wealth, knowledge, and power were created in the men's sphere. This is what pushed the men's sphere ahead. Not oppression"

Hopefully after this email, you do not disassociate yourself from me! Please do not get me wrong! I believe that equal opportunity should be given to everyone! But to survive, men and women have evolved differently and obtained different abilities over the past million years!

Link to the article

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Evolution theory or fact? is it controversial?

It is not uncommon to hear that some people say evolution is controversial and it is still a theory! I have seen that even in educated people, probably not well-educated!
Evolution is like gravity or the fact that earth is round not flat!

"One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity’s sake, let’s stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact."

Richard Dawkins

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Running, surgery and philosophy!

I am reading an interesting book, "running and philosophy" by
Michael Austin which I came across while was looking for a book about philosophy of mind!. I can relate to it because there are many similarities between marathon running and surgical training! I recommend reading this book.
The author describes the seven Cs of success originally proposed by Thomas Morris in pursuit of excellence:

1. A clear Conception of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
2. A strong Confidence that we can attain our goal.
3. A focused Concentration that we can attain our goal.
4. A stubborn Consistency in pursuing our vision.
5. An emotional Commitment to the importance of what we’re doing [passion]
6. A good Character to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
7. A Capacity to Enjoy the process along the way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Imagine!



Today is a very important day! to remind us what self-righteous and religious delusion mean! to reminds us how ignorance could be devastating! Let's imagine a world with no religion!
When I am on call,I receive few calls from the nurses in the middle of the night regarding surgical patients who have spiked a fever or have pain. Sometimes we need to do some investigations like lab work or Xray and often I need to go and assess a patient. Why? because our patients are very important. They may seem trivial! these trivial but important things disturb our sleep! this is what we are supposed to do: to take care of each other! then how it is possible people kill each other for supposedly good reasons? what is more important than our life?

Richard Dawkins has a good point:
"The nineteen men of 9/11, having washed, perfumed themselves and shaved their whole bodies in preparation for the martyr's paradise, believed they were performing the highest religious duty. By the lights of their religion they were as good as it is possible to be. They were not poor, downtrodden, oppressed or psychotic; they were well educated, sane and well balanced, and, as they thought, supremely good. But they were religious, and that provided all the justification they needed to murder and destroy.

It is easy for religious faith, even if it is irrational in itself, to lead a sane and decent person, by rational, logical steps, to do terrible things. There is a logical path from religious faith to evil deeds. There is no logical path from atheism to evil deeds. Of course, many evil deeds are done by individuals who happen to be atheists"


I quote Steven Weinberg again
"With or without [religion] you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion."


Just imagine world with no religion!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Important things in life

The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.
Bertrand Russell

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tragedy vs. Comedy!

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think."

Jean de La Bruyère

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life and music!

Can you imagine our life without music?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cancer’s a Funny Thing!

J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964)was a British-born evolutionary biologist and one of the founders (along with Ronald Fisher and Sewall Wright) of population genetics. He wrote comic poem before his death making fun of his incurable rectal cancer. I think that this illness is one the most horrifying surgical diseases which unfortunately is discovered late due to its location and lack of experience on physicians side! So, I think rectal examination is a "must" in any patient-doctor encounter when they are seen by their family doctors! Most of people are uncomfortable with this part! For them it is a private area but for doctors it is another natural orifice like mouth!! Once I asked one of my patients to get ready for the exam and he looked at me and said "you first to see how it feels!"


Cancer’s a Funny Thing

I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked.
Yet, thanks to modern surgeon’s skills,
It can be killed before it kills
Upon a scientific basis
In nineteen out of twenty cases.
I noticed I was passing blood
(Only a few drops, not a flood).
So pausing on my homeward way
From Tallahassee to Bombay
I asked a doctor, now my friend,
To peer into my hinder end,
To prove or to disprove the rumour
That I had a malignant tumour.
They pumped in BaS04.
Till I could really stand no more,
And, when sufficient had been pressed in,
They photographed my large intestine,
In order to decide the issue
They next scraped out some bits of tissue.
(Before they did so, some good pal
Had knocked me out with pentothal,
Whose action is extremely quick,
And does not leave me feeling sick.)
The microscope returned the answer
That I had certainly got cancer,
So I was wheeled into the theatre
Where holes were made to make me better.
One set is in my perineurn
Where I can feel, but can’t yet see ‘em.
Another made me like a kipper
Or female prey of Jack the Ripper,
Through this incision, I don’t doubt,
The neoplasm was taken out,
Along with colon, and lymph nodes
Where cancer cells might find abodes.
A third much smaller hole is meant
To function as a ventral vent:
So now I am like two-faced Janus
The only* god who sees his anus.
I’ll swear, without the risk of perjury,
It was a snappy bit of surgery.
My rectum is a serious loss to me,
But I’ve a very neat colostomy,
And hope, as soon as I am able,
To make it keep a fixed time-table.
So do not wait for aches and pains
To have a surgeon mend your drains;
If he says “cancer” you’re a dunce
Unless you have it out at once,
For if you wait it’s sure to swell,
And may have progeny as well.
My final word, before I’m done,
Is “Cancer can be rather fun”.
Thanks to the nurses and Nye Bevan
The NHS is quite like heaven
Provided one confronts the tumour
With a sufficient sense of humour.
I know that cancer often kills,
But so do cars and sleeping pills;
And it can hurt one till one sweats,
So can bad teeth and unpaid debts.
A spot of laughter, I am sure,
Often accelerates one’s cure;
So let us patients do our bit
To help the surgeons make us fit


*In India there are several more
With extra faces, up to four,
But both in Brahma and in Shiva
I own myself an unbeliever.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
Ray Bradbury (1920 - )

Friday, July 18, 2008

The tragedy of life!

“The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.”
Steven Weinberg

I think we will never know the essence of this world and the answers to many questions. Death is the most tragic event in our life. Every time, I see a dying patient, young or old, it reminds me the sadness of this misfortune!

Khayyam
was questioning the same matter in his fascinating poetic way:



"We are the puppets and fate the puppeteer
This is not a metaphor, but a truth sincere
On this stage, fate for sometime our moves steer
Into the chest of non-existence, one by one disappear"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Music of yearing and longing

I was introduce to Lhasa' music by a friend.I am mesmerized by her voice, smoky vocals, dream-like imagery and an ability to look life straight in the eyes, they call it.I have not been able to stop listening to her for the past 10 days!!

She also has had a fascinating life which has made her character and art, her nomadic childhood.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Silly things!

If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayers, do they help?

Have you ever seen prayers work for a patient? There is a common belief that if you pray for someone, somehow, it helps him/her to recover! Personally, I have never seen one. We hear a lot of stories that someone was told that s/he had a incurable disease and miraculously s/he got better! I think it actually shows we do not know much about diseases. Still we cannot predict the behavior of cancers. The number we usually quote for our patients are population based. For example, end stage breast cancer has a very poor prognosis and 5 year survival is less than 20%. One patient may die in 2 months and another lives more than 5 years! You can easily convince yourself that praying help patients to live longer!
What about storms or earthquakes or flood? Do they help?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iran


Brilliant shot from Saeed Abbasi

Childish superstition


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
This quote from Einstein has been very popular and many people are convinced that he was a religious man! I recently saw a documentary on Canadian TV showing he was a member of faith. I think this letter helps to understand his position on belief. Dawkins thinks that Einstein used "God" as a metaphor rather than an independent entity who created the universe.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

L'Anse Aux Meadows


20080426_14, originally uploaded by Iman Ghaderi.

Yesterday, I visited L'Anse Aux Meadows. Originally, a french name "L'Anse aux Meduses," meaning "Jellyfish Bay."!
"L'Anse aux Meadows is the only known Norse site in North America outside of Greenland, represents the farthest known extent of European exploration and settlement of the New World before the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot almost 500 years later, and is the only genuine evidence of pre-Columbian contact between the New and Old Worlds."

I think that Norwegian can claim that they discovered "America". The question is if they knew that they were the first people! The site will be open in June, Tourist season. I heard that they serve you sea foods and they dress in viking custom! maybe some Pinnekjøtt :))

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Newfie dialect

20080419_35b
Before coming to Newfoundland, I already knew that Newfoundlanders or Newfies are the subject of many jokes in Canada. Is their accent or dialect funny? I do not think so! They definitely have an accent. Sometimes I need to ask a question twice, because I have accent too, or ask them to repeat what they say! I think it is a universal thing that every nation makes fun of a minority and Canadians are not exception! Is it acceptable? of course not!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fishing point, St Anthony


20080419_99_1, originally uploaded by Iman Ghaderi.


Yesterday I met a local man at the fishing point. Every day, many people drive to this point to watch the ocean and floating icebergs with their binoculars. Here people are very open and friendly. They easily approach you to chat. We nodded to each other. He was looking through his binocular and told me to take a look. There was a huge iceberg in horizon. He talked about the behaviors of icebergs and the time one may see them. Then we talked about St Anthony and its nature. We both agreed that it is fascinating. He went on talking about life and the value of moments and how most people are in rush and do not enjoy their lives. I found him very articulate and wise. I asked him about his profession and education. He introduced himself as an average guy who wished to have a wise mentor when he was young to avoid mistakes he made in his life. I enjoyed talking to this local man. It has been a long time that I did not have such a thought provoking conversation with a person I did not know. I feel that I know these people for a long time!

St Anthony, NL - 1


It is about 10 days that I came to St Anthony. I found it very interesting place. I think its nature, people and the surgical experience I will get from my stay make it unique. Weather is nice and snow is melting. I drove around the coast yesterday. It was a sunny day. I went to see the Viking historical site but unfortunately, it won't be opened until June, tourists season! I took many pictures. Every scenes is spectacular. People are very friendly and they say hello or wave their hands when they see you!
There are a lot of things that I would like to write about. I am hoping to get my Internet connection in my room to be able to write every night!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

St Anthony, NL

I am wrting this post at St John's Airport. Thanks to free internet!I can write while waiting for my flight to St Anthony. I have been looking forward to my rural surgery rotation in St Anthony since last year. I am planning to take many pictures from beautiful nature in my spare time. I am not sure if I will have any!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring breeze



These days you probably have noticed that I am writing about religion and life. Couple of days ago, I was in Starbucks at Chapters with a friend. We were sipping on our cafe latte, my favorite, and chatting about religion and its effect on life. We were talking about our experience, say a journey from religious kids to secular adults. He had a good point. He was saying that believing in god or religion is not in our nature. If we do not impose it to children, they won't become religious. I agree with him. I noticed most of religious parents are quite concerned about their kids not losing their faith! They have to reinforce it all the time. Preachers threat people that they will burn in hellfire if they do not stick to it They target human beings' fear and weakness due to vulnerability and uncertainty! Life without imposed fear is quite an experience. It is like spring breeze!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tiny existence in the vast universe!


The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

Charles Darwin

I think this is the best way to describe the world. Then, you do not need to look for the mystery behind any disaster. There is no testing or supernatural act nor punishment! People do not get cancer or die in flood because of their sins!It is because of our tiny existence in this vast universe!
By the way what is sin?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Were they all stoned?



I am wondering if other people who claimed to be prophets were high on drug like Moses according to Benny Shanon at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This part is interesting, He says "As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either. Or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics."

There is a phenomenon that some theologians talk about: religious experience . I became familiar with this concept few years ago when I was interested in mysticism!The problem is that our brain is very powerful and can drive us anywhere we like or wish! you just need to believe it. Moses was on Mount Sinai when God spoke to him, Mohammad was in a cave for meditation where, according to muslims, he received his first revelation from God!and the last claimed prophet , Bahá'u'lláh, had mystical experiences while he was in a dark prison, Síyáh-Chál. He claimed that he received a vision of a Maiden from God!
Do you see any pattern here? depends on your beliefs or not having beliefs, you will have different interpretation.
By the way, you think what would have been the reaction of muslims if someone had publish similar theory about Mohammad!


Read this and this too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hell is hot like hell

Hell is hot like hell! As far as I remember, I have been told that if I "do" this or "do not" do that I would end up in hell! Have you ever thought about the psychological effect of such threat especially when you are very young?
I like this Khayyam's Rubaii ( Khayyam 1048–1131, an Iranian atheist poet, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer)

Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain--This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.