Published Articles

Monday, March 30, 2015

Abstract — The search for longevity, if not for immortality itself, has been as old as recorded history. The great strides made in the standard of living and the advances in scientific medicine, have resulted in unprecedented increases in longevity, concomitant with improved quality of life. Thanks to medical progress senior citizens, particularly octogenarians, have become the fastest growing segment of the population and the number of centenarians is increasing, even though in the last two decades, spurred by the bioethics movement, the priority assigned to the prolongation of lifespan has taken a back seat to the containment of health care costs. This article describes what individuals can do to lead healthy lifestyles and increase longevity, concomitant with preservation of quality of life until the very end of life—as postulated by Dr. James F. Fries’ hypothesis of the compression of morbidity. This review article investigates the contention of bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel that Fries’ theory is a “fantasy” and not a realistic possibility. In this context recent advances in neurobiology, epigenetics, and aging are described, and the hypothesis of the compression of...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An interesting conversation with a European neurosurgical colleague, who decries the "gun culture" of America, took place that may be of interest to readers of GOPUSA. The dialogue began with a difference of opinion on an unrelated topic, but in the course of that exchange, I happened to innocently use a figure of speech that offended the other party, and the conversation below ensued.

What I wrote was: "Although only three paragraphs long, Dr. Z's letter is a loaded gun of criticism with serious implications that require considerable historic and philosophic discussion and cannot possibly be answered fully in a few paragraphs.

Dr Z:  "Dr Faria's comment tries to rewrite my letter but does not succeed. Certainly, my letter was no “loaded gun” — it caused none of the physical injuries, death and human misery inflicted by the 'loaded gun' culture that some choose to celebrate."

And with that retort, one may say, therein lies the rub. It happens that I had written a two-part comprehensive editorial entitled, "America, Guns, and Freedom," which had upset not only Dr. Z but also his mentor Dr. H at a prestigious institution in Europe. Both of...

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Story of Medicine by Victor Robinson, M.D. The New Home Library, New York; 1943. Bibliographical Notes, Indexed, 564 pages.

Dr. Victor Robinson was Professor of History of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia.[1] Because the history of medicine has been neglected for decades, this specialty will no longer be found listed among the faculty or the subject of any medical school curriculum. This is a deficiency that the late scholar Plinio Prioreschi, M.D., PhD, lamented in the first three volumes of his monumental A History of Medicine, and I cannot help mentioning it too.[2,3,4] Medical history is medicine and medical ethics and should continue to be a subject of study and research for future physicians. If they don't know where they come from, how do the young doctors know where they are going or are being led by others?

As it happens, Robinson quotes the historian Thucydides in the subject of general history. Thucydides is quoted as saying:

So adverse to taking pains are most men in the search for the truth and so prone are they to turn to what lies ready at hand. And it may well be that the absence of the fabulous from my...

Friday, March 20, 2015

When I was in training, we used to hear horror stories about the coming “cook-book” medicine in which doctors would be given a list of preordained methods for diagnosing and treating various diseases handed down by medical elites. This relegates the physician to little more than a cog in the wheel of the State, obediently following orders handed down from the bureaucrats above.

Again, we come to the question of — Whose evidence? As physicians, we were taught the art of observation, use of intuitive sense, drawing on our experiences, and most importantly, personal interaction with patients on an individual basis. The collectivists see patients, as they see all humanity, as a collective of human beings with no one individual being really that important.

While many elitists in medicine will find that statement an affront, a closer examination finds this to be true. Based on present thinking, a treatment should not be implemented until there is accepted proof that the treatment works and that it is reasonably safe. Despite this laudable goal, we see that when alternative treatments have shown extreme safety, sound scientific justification and considerable rational...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

In its ongoing effort to examine controversial subjects, Surgical Neurology International (SNI) explores a recent paper on limiting life to the age of 75 by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Dr. Miguel Faria, an Associate Editor in Chief of SNI, in his Editorial, "Bioethics and why I hope to live beyond age 75 attaining wisdom!: A rebuttal to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's 75 age limit," provides a response to "the government planners, supported by the ever-accommodating bioethicists, who posit that with increasing longevity and augmentation of the population of American elderly, more drastic actions will be required to prevent the bankruptcy of the public financing of medical care. They believe, therefore, that outright government-imposed euthanasia, not only for the terminally ill but also for the inconvenient infirm and the superfluous elderly, will become necessary."

This subject is a very important one for physicians and neurosurgeons to understand, as it has major implications for the practice of medicine. Recently, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, whose paper was quoted by Faria, proposed this idea. Emanuel stated that people should not be allowed to live beyond the age of 75, as they...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Until quite recently, the practice of medicine was considered an art, which incorporated a significant modicum of science, yet was itself not a pure and applied science, such as physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry. Sir William Osler (1849-1919), one of the greatest medical minds, not only in the science of medicine, but more so the art of medicine, has written:

What, after all, is education but a subtle, slowly-affected change, due to the action upon us of Externals; of the written record of the great minds of all ages, of the beautiful and harmonious surroundings of nature and of art, and of the lives, good or ill, of our fellows—these alone educate us, these alone mould the developing minds.[1] 

It used to be accepted that the aim of medical education was to produce physicians that would be well rounded, not only in the particulars of their specialty, but also as members of a cultured and intellectually engaged society of men—men who could think critically and with a depth that brings wisdom. Dr. Osler (photo, left: Courtesy Wellcome Library) recognized that medical education was a complex insertion of “varied influences of...

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Prelude to Medical History (1961) by Dr. Félix Martí-Ibáñez (1911-1972) is a short but interesting book on medical history based on a series of lectures to an entering class of medical students, who the author welcomes with excitement and jubilation. Martí-Ibáñez emphasizes such traits as greatness with humility and compassion with learning in medical ethics and the history of medicine. As foundations upon which to build the profession, he lists clinical practice, teaching, and research.

To understand the focus and direction of this book, though, it is necessary to know a bit about the life of Dr. Martí-Ibáñez. He was a Spanish psychiatrist who immigrated to the United States in 1939 after the victory of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. He had been a minister in the government overthrown by Franco, and his politics seem to lie just under the surface. For example, he vastly overestimates the casualties of the Spanish Inquisition and seems to underestimate the Spanish culture as opposed to Eastern cultures. He praises the Greeks but seems reluctant to give the Romans their due in the advancement of science and civilization. After giving the Romans credit for...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Six years ago I was asked to address the Western Society of Neurosurgery comparing the candidates for President Barack Obama and John McCain. I was very blunt, but analytical about both, but my comments about Obama were not well received by the liberal audience. Unfortunately, what I said has come true. But people will forget that also. The same has happened with the socio-economic/political paper I wrote. It has all come true.(1)

I have had many discussions with people over the past months. Some who were Obama supporters and a number are Jews, who formerly supported Obama and now are against him vigorously. I have not asked them, yet, if they would vote for Hillary Clinton against any number of Republican opponents, which they probably would. They and most people do not learn. Antisemitism is on the rise; Jews are leaving Europe. Yet Obama's popularity, by Gallup poll, is back at 50%. That means that his strategy of buying votes by entitlements is still working. People do not like to give up what is given to them "free." I do not see any savior on the horizon. That coupled with the huge entitlement mentality,...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In a previous article in GOPUSA about gun control in the European social democracies, I wrote that many Americans are extremely naïve when it comes to trusting the government with their liberties. In fact, there is an interesting dichotomy because citizens mistrust the economic acumen of government and don’t trust it with their wallets, but they play a different, more acquiescent tune when it comes to their personal freedom!

Thus, we continue to hear the expression, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” The fact is we Americans have lived in freedom for so long, we are not only too trusting with liberty, but like the proverbial frog in the warming bath, don’t even notice when our freedoms are being eroded piecemeal.

Recently a letter-writer in my local newspaper, the Macon Telegraph, received an avalanche of verbal reprimands and heaps of derision thrown on her, from both apparent liberals and conservatives, for her temerity to express emotionally concerns about government invasion of her personal privacy.

The fact remains that even paranoids have enemies, as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir reminded Secretary of State Henry Kissinger...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Review of The Other Solzhenitsyn: Telling the Truth about a Misunderstood Writer and Thinker by Daniel J. Mahoney (2014)

I agree with the tenets of this important book on the life and philosophy of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, an insightful intellectual profile as recounted by the author Daniel J. Mahoney, a political scientist at Assumption College. Mahoney has in fact written a masterful semi-biographical and inspirational tome on the legacy of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, a legacy of the pursuit of truth, physical and moral courage, literary genius, and man's insatiable thirst for freedom.

Solzhenitsyn was a towering figure in the 20th century, not only for his unique contribution in exposing the immorality of the communist system, in dismantling the totalitarian gulag system and militating the collapse of the "Evil Empire" of the Soviet Union, but also as a political philosopher, memoirist, and historical novelist of the highest order. All of this is recounted eloquently in this book, particularly Solzhenitsyn's more controversial legacy in the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

As recounted in previous articles, there is no question Solzhenitsyn received superlative...

Enjoy this live recording of “Butterfly Dance” by the German darkwave band Diary of Dreams