Doctors Without Intellect


Were descriptive accuracy my sole objective, I would have titled this post “Intelligence Without Intellect.”

So why doctors?

Because from my experience they best exemplify the phenomenon of intelligence without intellect. I was one of many college students who initially chose medicine as his career path only to later re-assess. But my re-assessment did not take place until two weeks after beginning medical school. So I don’t harbor the jealousy I might had I been forced off the doctor track by academic shortcoming. And, since I went on to business school, then law school, I have some basis for comparison.

From my experience, more than any other commonly-held occupation, becoming a doctor requires substantial intelligence. It’s unimaginable to me that one of less than average intelligence could get through the pre-med curriculum, which includes chemistry, calculus and physics, with the grades needed to gain admittance to medical school. The same is even more clearly true of other occupations, say rocket scientists, but none that have the visibility in our society that doctors do.

Intelligence, however, is not intellect. Chris Hedges often refers to the “illiterate majority” in America. When he does so, he’s not referring to the unintelligent or the uneducated. Rather, he’s referring to the group that includes, for example, college graduates who go years at a time without reading a book. The problem is not that Americans as a group lack intelligence. Rather, it’s that we collectively don’t provide the nourishment our intelligence requires to develop intellect.

And so, in America, we have doctors without intellect. One of them forwards chain emails to me that have a racist undertone. Is he himself racist? Probably, but the eye opener here is not his racism, it’s that he’s so poorly read he doesn’t grasp the import of his forwarded emails. And he’s a doctor.

Another trolls my Facebook page. As those who follow me here know, I’ll readily engage in the comments section with those of the opposing view. But I don’t respond to this doctor, because his knowledge base is so weak and his analytical skills so atrophied from decades of non-use that there just would be no point in doing so.

This of course is not unique to doctors. Intellect, you see, is not easily monetized. So, in our consumption-driven society, it has little value. Intelligence is to be used to develop wealth, not intellect.

Is there a downside to doctors without intellect? You bet. When we have doctors (and many others) without intellect, we pave the way for the mediocre, and worse, among us to rise to leadership.

Consider that as you consider your ballot in 2016.


  1. I have strongly resisted the constant characterization of Tea Party people as “toothless yokels” by some of my fellow liberals not only because it’s shitty and elitist but also because it simply isn’t true. I’ve found them to be more likely than not to be educated and middle class if not more affluent. The wealthy enclave of Fountain Hills at one time had two separate and distinct Tea Party groups that were very active. The Maryvale area of Phoenix, which is still home to a lot of poor white people, has never had one that I’m aware of. A doctor in Fountain Hills has more resources and leisure time to devote to cultivating radical reactionary views than the guy changing your oil. People without teeth have a lot more real life shit to deal with.

    • Yeah, when a single mom who slings dishes at a diner for nine hours before doing her parenting chores fails to read the newspaper, I’m a little more sympathetic.

Comments are closed.