1. Don't let a medical school rejection letter be your first dose of reality
2. Specialization is for insects . . . what? You'll see.
3. Educators are now doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing, and students are paying the price. Perhaps even you.
4. The single greatest thing any teacher ever did for me.
by Kevin Pezzi, MD
In a segment on FOX's America's Newsroom, Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow discussed a new study showing that parents are creating a "smug generation" of young Americans with inflated egos that are not matched by enough aptitude or achievements to justify their lofty self-opinions. In other words, their heads are often bigger than what's inside. One of the defining characteristics of these folks is that they do not recognize themselves as having big egos. In their minds, they think they're destined for greatness and truly are amazing.
This disconnect between perception and reality predisposes affected individuals to later psychological problems when they fail to achieve their dreams, experiencing a huge letdown that they are not equipped to handle. They may experience anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
Here's an excerpt of the program:
CO-HOST BILL HEMMER: Do you see this in your own practice?
DR. ABLOW: Absolutely.
HEMMER: Well, what do you see?
DR. ABLOW: I have young people coming in who, despite performance that is suboptimal, have a very high opinion of themselves. [. . .] They dismiss the ways in which they are underperforming.
Dr. Ablow went on to say that we all pay a price for this unjustified ego inflation, because ". . . the whole culture depends on reality and facts." He added, "I think this is a big problem. This may define Gen Y, if you will. But more than that, it's going to be tough to get Gen Y as they parent and they think they're doing great jobs in their marriages and as parents and at work to actually grasp the fact that they need to change."
While conducting research for my site discussing the beautiful woman syndrome, I uncovered countless gorgeous women who think they are much more than attractive: they are supreme beings whose beauty somehow makes them better than others in ways unrelated to appearance. They're so smart, interesting, and funny . . . or so they think. What's stunning about them is less their appearance than their exalted egos, as revealed in what those beautiful women with big heads say.
However, it's not just beautiful young women who are conceited; this is commonly found in many of their peers. What causes these lofty egos filled with not much more than hot air?
- Excessive praise by parents and teachers.
- Insufficient justified criticism and negative feedback.
- In sports: Not keeping score, and giving trophies to everyone involved, not just the winners.
As this smug generation goes through life, they're bound to encounter evidence suggesting that they aren't as wonderful as they imagine themselves to be, so they have some reflexive ways of dealing with facts that do not mesh with their version of reality:
- One of these defense mechanisms is to automatically dismiss the evidence. I saw a classic example of this when a friend of mine teaching English to nursing students had one who couldn't understand why her instructor (my friend) found so many errors of grammar, spelling, and overall sentence structure in her papers. Rather than admitting that her papers were imperfect, she e-mailed the school administration to complain how stupid her instructor was in not seeing what a wonderful writer she was! Humorously, her complaint e-mail was short yet riddled with several errors. Another student confronted a different instructor, screaming, "How dare you write on my papers! They are perfect! I don't want you writing on them again!"
- People without much supporting evidence to substantiate their immense egos often fight an ongoing battle with reality. The danger is that reality might shatter their self-image when they see others achieving more than they have. In response, they frequently behave like lobsters or crabs in a bucket: if one of them begins to climb up, the others will pull him back down. Their biggest threat is someone with a healthy but justified ego, such as someone who truly has admirable accomplishments. Rather than admit that person may be smarter, more creative, more talented, more capable, or more successful, they use a variety of juvenile tactics to assail that person.
Here is an example of the latter defense mechanism: Some students on a pre-med forum made various libelous statements about me (for which some will pay very dearly, but that's another story). Although not one of those people write intelligently, and some misspell even simple words, they somehow feel entitled to judge and malign me. "He couldn't possibly have thought of a way for people to lose weight without dieting, drugs, herbs, exercise, or surgery!" Or they may express similar skepticism about the methods I discovered that enable men to increase penile size after puberty.
I will be the first to admit that it is natural to question the veracity of such claims because most people who've made them are wrong and just looking for unethical ways to make money. However, whether you want to lose weight easily, enlarge your penis, increase your libido or sexual pleasure, or increase your IQ, I know how to do it. That really bugs some people who don't like to see anyone achieve more than they have. Reverberating in their little minds is the question of, "If no one else thought of it, how could he?" If this were logically valid, no one could have ever made a breakthrough because breakthroughs are by definition advances in which an innovator does something that hasn't been done before.
I chuckle about their skepticism because I have hundreds of other breakthroughs and inventions that I never mention online, even though they are much more impressive. However, I am not here to impress anyone with my IQ, creativity, or accomplishments. As I've said for years, I mention them for one reason: I am on a mission to help people become not just doctors, but superb doctors. Furthermore, I don't want medical careers limited to people who were born with high IQs because I know that intelligence and creativity can skyrocket when the right catalysts for boosting brainpower are utilized, so people can become very intelligent even if they were not born with exceptional aptitude.
Incidentally, I began this mission years ago only hoping to increase the intelligence and creativity of doctors, inventors, and scientists, but after the financial collapse of the United States in 2008, I think that a massive surge in brainpower would go a long way toward restoring our economy.
I love to do things that others deem to be impossible, and most people think that intelligence cannot be substantially improved. Teachers and professors may make you more knowledgeable, but they don't try to appreciably augment your intelligence because that seems as possible as gym teachers making you taller. However, decades after I developed my methods, researchers are now finding that intelligence can indeed be improved. My methods are more diverse and synergistic than theirs, so my methods can produce much better results.
I've helped people—who once were on a fast track to nowhere—achieve their dreams. Many are now in medical school, and some have graduated and now have impressive careers as doctors. However, when I began writing about boosting brainpower years ago, I was the only person who was living proof that my methods work. I could have kept my methods to myself, asked for your blind trust, or presented evidence that my methods are effective. The only way at that time was to discuss myself, so I did.
As I alluded to on the home page of this site, I think my claim regarding increasing IQ is more credible when I am writing not just as someone who is smart, but someone who once wasn't. My sixth-grade teacher said that I was "slow," and I struggled my first two years of high school. I felt lucky to receive Ds in some classes that I should have flunked. Then everything changed as I implemented my techniques of increasing IQ and creativity. The change was rapid and dramatic, like lighting a rocket booster. I rocketed from the bottom to the top of my classes, aced the last two years of high school, aced college, aced the MCAT, became the only person accepted into my medical school class with three years of college (reserved for one person with exceptional qualifications per year in a class of 256), and graduated in the top 1% of my med school class. I was offered an under-the-table deal for an ER residency position (the most coveted residency at that time) because the hospital wanted to ensure that no other hospital lured me away. The director of my residency program once commented that I was the smartest resident they ever had, and one of my former bosses told me that I was the smartest doctor he ever met.
I've done things outside of medicine that are more impressive than what I've done in it, but I thought that my transformation from sixth-grade dunce to smart doctor was sufficient to prove that you're probably better off listening to me than others who were born on third base in regard to intelligence, yet act as if they just hit a triple. In other words, if someone is born smart but hasn't really done much to increase his brainpower, how can he plausibly claim that he can improve yours? Wouldn't you rather learn from someone who started with less but ended up with more?
If Point A is being a dunce in sixth grade, and Point B is graduating in the top 1% of my medical school class, I know how to make that seemingly impossible journey. I thought my story was more compelling when I mentioned where I started from (Point A), not just where I ended up (Point B). Had I mentioned Point A only, none of you would bother listening to me. Sure, I'd have fewer people looking for ways to knock me down to their level (see above), but I would not give you any substantive reasons to read what I have to say about increasing intelligence. Therefore, mentioning Point B was imperative. If that riles some of you who hate to see others accomplish more than you have or will, that's too bad.
You may wonder why I write about increasing intelligence and creativity. You may ask, "What's in it for you? You sell books on weight loss and sex, so you could write a book about boosting brainpower and sell that, too. So why don't you?" I am doing that now, producing what will likely be two books that will be worth more than their weight in gold—literally. Incidentally, I am in a generous mood, so anyone who pre-orders my Boosting Brainpower book will get the other one free.
I posted some of my brainpower tips free on this site and www.ERbook.net. I have countless tips and methods that I haven't yet disclosed; they will be included in my books
Incidentally, on some of the many pages in this site, www.ERbook.net, my blog, and my books, I weave one of my brainpower-boosting techniques into the text without specifically disclosing it, and without necessarily discussing intelligence or creativity. While most of my ways to augment brainpower have no prerequisites, this one does. You won't benefit from what I am doing unless you're sharp; if you are, you'll emerge slightly smarter.
One of my readers sent the following message to me:
"I'm speechless. Well, as speechless as I get. ;-) Fascinating Health Secrets is simply a fantastic book. I can't begin to tell you what a pleasure it is to read — my brain gets such a great workout it feels like drinking 5 cups of coffee. Rarely do I find something so mentally stimulating that I can actually feel my IQ rising as I read it. Apart from the health tips themselves, there is so much killer material in the book. From your forays into discussing medical insurance and healthcare, to the observation that it is exceptional individuals who drive society and technology forward, I found myself laughing out loud, and nodding in total agreement. Please accept a virtual handshake and hearty slap on the back for such a wonderful piece of work."
"Rarely do I find something so mentally stimulating that I can actually feel my IQ rising as I read it." That's exactly what I intended.
On the pre-med forum I discussed above, yet another one of their picayune criticisms of me was that I've done too much. I'm not just a doctor, author, inventor, and business owner, but I developed a free new way to combat spam that is more effective than anything conceived by Google, Microsoft, Norton, etc. I created a free site that allows people to compose a personal profile and catchy headline for online dating without typing at all, just by clicking. I invented a method that enables online daters to contact people they notice on personals sites and other Internet pages without the need to pay those sites or to create an account with them. I created a site that enables people to track info they want to follow. You may have seen other sites which do that, but none are as powerful as mine. If you have a website or blog, you might be intrigued by how my site obviates the need to buy expensive and complex mailing list manager software. That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what it can do. Incidentally, you can use my site as your blog or website, too.
I learned more medicine than most other doctors, but I didn't stop learning after medical school. I educated myself about health, because medical schools focus almost exclusively on disease. I put some of what I knew years ago into Fascinating Health Secrets, and I'd wager that I learn more about health each month than your doctor learns in a decade.
I build very fancy sheds, make hand-carved doors and cupolas, sell an innovative but inexpensive way to deter burglars, give away free ER books and podcasts, help programmers balance braces, parentheses, brackets, and tags in their code (free), help web developers generate keyword lists (free), generate favicons, create shelters for wild animals (I don't bother charging them, figuring that few would pay :-), and do medical consultations. I write extensively about politics on my blog and in this site (see my analysis of what led to the Crash of 2008 and my continuation of that discussion from the top to the middle of the brain teasers page). I've been interviewed by numerous radio stations, newspapers, and magazines. I've been on television and sometimes consult with TV and film producers. I am constantly developing new web sites, inventions, products, and businesses. I taught myself electronics and designed and built countless devices (here are a few of my medical gizmos and miscellaneous creations). I wrote two books about the Crash of 2008 and how people can live better, happier lives than they ever imagined in spite of the troubling economic times we face—and will continue to face for many years to come. Want to read those books? See From Bailout to Bliss (free for personal use) and Microhome Living (free).
This list is far from complete, but it does show that I am productive—perhaps too productive for the losers who cannot conceive of how anyone could accomplish more than they do, so they sit in front of their computers late at night in their tattered bathrobes and denounce people like me who actually achieve things. They're like lobsters who try pulling others down to their level.
A polymath is a well-educated person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. Synonyms include Renaissance Man, Homo Universalis (Latin for "universal man" or "man of the world"), and Universal Genius. Calling someone a polymath is universally regarded as a compliment because possessing expertise or intellectual gifts that span a number of different subject areas is obviously more desirable than having one notable talent—or none at all.
A brilliant thinker named Robert A. Heinlein once wrote:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Thus, when those doctor wannabes criticized me for being diversified, they created a logically perverse fallacy in which I would have been held in higher esteem by them if I knew only emergency medicine and had no other accomplishments. Therefore, these nitwits gave me remarkable insight into the shallow depths of their minds. Few of them will achieve their goals of becoming physicians, and none are destined for greatness. Instead of studying for the MCAT or a class, they showed how petty and arrogant they are by harping on another incredibly picayune point: criticizing me for sometimes using ER or emergency room instead of ED or emergency department. Ahem; that's hardly news to me. Years ago, we called them emergency rooms because they often weren't much more than that. They're now true departments with multiple rooms, so it may be more technically correct to call them the emergency department or ED instead of emergency room or ER. However, I've never heard a real doctor or nurse use the term ED. "Let's go, Jim, there's a new trauma patient in the ED." Thanks to Viagra, "ED" evokes a reference to "erectile dysfunction." ED just doesn't have the same ring as ER, explaining why the people who created the show ER didn't call it ED.
I mentioned their picayune point about ER versus ED not because I care about their opinions, but to illustrate how people with little mental horsepower typically dwell on such idiotically trivial points because their feeble minds cannot generate a more substantial way to slam me. The sad part is that, as dumb as they are, they're probably smarter than I once was. Therefore, had they utilized my techniques to boost brainpower and diligently worked as hard as I did, they could have equaled or exceeded my achievements. Instead, they're bellyaching about me being too diversified or using the term ER. Really great use of their time! It's not surprising that one of them flubbed the MCAT so horrendously that she didn't even bother applying to medical school; there are probably many others failing like her, but I didn't waste much time on that site. From what I could tell, it appeared to be a site in which losers listen to useless advice from other losers. I read about 100 posts (a statistically valid sample), and did not find a single intelligent comment or suggestion.
By the way, I called them "losers" not to gratuitously belittle them, but to challenge them. At the top of this page, I began by discussing the smug young generation with inflated egos who often get that way when they receive praise that is not justified. When my sixth-grade teacher called me "slow" in front of the class, it didn't shatter my ego because he told me something I already new. However, the fact that he did it so brazenly in front of the class created a burning desire in me to improve and to prove him wrong. And so I did, achieving more than he ever could have dreamed of.
Do you see the point of this long discussion? It's not about the mental midgets on that pre-med forum; I just used them to make this point: excessive and especially unjustified praise can lead to losers like the pre-med babies who whine about me being too diversified or using ER instead of ED. In their minds, they are destined for fame and fortune when they are really just destined to be unhappy failures. However, justified criticism—such as when my sixth-grade teacher called me "slow"—can give people a burning desire to succeed. They think to themselves, "I'll show you!" And they often do. The problem is that today's teachers don't lash out at students as my teacher did. Everyone gets a pat on the back, no matter how poorly they're doing. Who the hell thinks that is a good idea? Why are professors of education teaching such rubbish to future teachers? People work for praise; when we get it too easily, it reduces the incentive to give a 100% effort. By calling them "losers," I hope that at least a few wake up and work day and night to prove me wrong.
What my sixth-grade teacher did to me wasn't harmful; it was the catalyst that created an indelibly burning desire to succeed. If a teacher did it today, he would surely be reprimanded. That's too bad. What that sixth-grade teacher did was the single greatest thing any teacher ever did for me.
Yet another reason why some of the people on that pre-medical forum attacked me is because they did not like what I wrote about the many drawbacks of working as an ER doctor. They cannot attack the truthfulness of the message, so they attacked the messenger. After an ER doctor ordered a second copy of True Emergency Room Stories from Amazon's Marketplace, I e-mailed him to ask if this was a new order, or perhaps a snafu from Amazon repeating the first order.
“Yes, it's a new order. Having been a residency-trained, board-certified ER doc for 22 years (one of the first), I wanted to keep the first one for myself, and loan out the second to various people, including one of my fighter pilots who is going to attend med school and wants to be an ER doc despite my dire warnings. Great book!!! Your writing sounds exactly like many of the "sermons" I've been giving for years. Your use of the exact same language was uncanny. I've experienced almost everything you've written about in the book in my 26 years of ER work. Thanks for putting it in writing so I can tell people to read it if they want to know what my life is like. Thanks again for the awesome book.”
[CDR William Voelker, MD, MC (FS/VFC-13) USNR, FAAEM Medical Director, Emergency Department, Enloe Medical Center, Chico, California]
Now who do you think knows more about the reality of being an ER doctor: Dr. Voelker and me, or those pre-med wannabes?
Now for some very good news: While working as an ER doctor has all of the drawbacks I mentioned, the overall desirability of medical careers took a quantum leap forward when the US economy collapsed in 2008. It's not that the drawbacks went away; they're still there. However, the overall balance sheet of desirability, in which the advantages of a profession are compared with its disadvantages, moved toward the pros and away from the cons. I explained why in this analysis of the Crash of 2008.