Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
- In his book Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, Atul Gawande depicts the field of medicine as elaborate and disturbing in the least. It is characterized by innumerable uncertainties, and the stakes are usually high. The tests, drugs, machines and procedures are undoubtedly at the center of what medicine achieves, but there is more to it. Few rarely see its complexity or understand its dynamics. Medicine is as complicated as it is interesting (Gawande 4). Anytime a person falls sick, the first action is usually to call a doctor or seek medical attention. This is because many believe in the expertise of a doctor yet never take into account that they can make errors in their treatments and diagnosis. Gawande says, “In some way, it may be in the nature of surgery itself to want to come to grips with the uncertainties and dilemmas of practical medicine. Surgery has become as high tech as medicine gets, but the best surgeons retain a deep recognition of the limitations of both science and human skill. Yet they still must act decisively (6).” Evidently, medicine may be effective in many instances but is sometimes unsuccessful because of lucky guesses or trial and error.
- Friday the Thirteenth is considered an unlucky day by many people. Many believe that it is a transgression to the number 12, which is considered divine. The figure 12 is a symbol of completeness as seen through the number of hours on the clock that constitute a day, months in a year, successors of Muhammad, disciples of Jesus, among other evidences that make 13 a peculiar number. Gawande refutes this in his book, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. He narrates an incidence where he noticed that many of his colleagues refused to volunteer for duty on Friday 13. He also recalled a study about a town that registered a 52 percent increase in the number of patients being admitted into a local hospital on a day dated Friday 13. He claims that this view is simply a product of people’s brains and an imagined pattern (125). An acceptance of these trends results in people assuming random patterns to be non-random (125). se of a doctor yet never take into account that they rs a Gawande further refutes the even more ingrained superstition of a full moon Friday 13. Following a lengthy research in the library and an outlook on various different studies, he was able to establish that there was no correlation between a full moon, a Friday dated 13 and luck.
- In their book, They say/ I say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing, Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkensein explain that the main objective of the book is that “it returns writing to its social, conversational base.” (XVIII). According to them, although writing may need a certain extent of solitude, listening to the views of other experts in the field will enable emerging writers perfect their skills (XVIII). The authors explain that excellent writing is the by-product of not only continuous reassurance in what they believe, but also putting them up against the diverse beliefs of the world. The book is intended as a guide to upcoming writers. The authors’ rationale is that writing, like any other skill, can be honed through adequate practice, repeated reflection and extensive reading of other people’s works. They claim that experienced writers are distinguished by certain basic moves that they have mastered over time (1). Inexperienced writers are unaware of these skills, and the book offers the best methods to acquire those skills.
Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002. Print.
Graff, Gerald, and Birkenstein, Cathy. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.
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