The pleasure of ignorance

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 07 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:0

“The great pleasure of ignorance is the pleasure of asking questions. The man who has lost this pleasure or exchanged it for the pleasure of dogma, which is the pleasure of answering, is already beginning to stiffen.” So said Robert Lynd in 1959. Hear, hear, say I. In this age of continuing medical education, useless as most of it might be, we are relearning the pleasures of asking questions. The BMJ has many times contemplated joining this bandwagon but so far always desisted. Today, we momentarily give in.

This is revalidation the easy way. Answer the following questions.

(1) For a woman who smokes what is the cumulative probability of dying of lung cancer relative to breast cancer at age 65 (p 1307)? (a)Half; (b) Same; (c)Twice.

(2) Who says meta-analysis “is now a somewhat discredited technique for analysing trials?” (a)Werner Zoege von Manteuffel (p 1330); (b)John R Hampton (p 1326); (c)Douglas G Altman (p 1309).

(3) Is he right? (a) Yes; (b)No; (c)“It all depends.”

(4) Who was the first surgeon to advocate the use of boiled, sterilised rubber gloves? (a)Werner Zoege von Manteuffel (p 1330); (b)John R Hampton (p 1326); (c)Douglas G Altman (p 1309).

(5) What is the eye problem caused by the antiepileptic vigabatrine (p 1322)? (a)Glaucoma; (b) Visual field defect; (c) Blepharitis.

(6) Who edited the BMJ from 1966-75 (p 1323)? (a)Drummond-Jackson; (b) Brer Rabbit; (c)Martin Ware.

(7) What was the bed occupancy found in a survey in England and Wales of acute psychiatric units (p 1279)? (a)99%; (b) 78%; (c) 104%.

(8) Which of the following are benefits of continuous positive airways pressure (p 1304)? (a)Recruitment of collapsed alveoli; (b) Improved lung compliance; (c) Reduced work of breathing; (d)All three.

(9) By December 1997 how many people had died of AIDS worldwide? (a)5.4m; (b) 8.2m; (c) 11.7m.

(10) Who said: “You believe in what you have. The rich believe in money, the intelligent believe in intelligence, the powerful believe in power, the Army believes in strength, the Church believes in morality” (p=1315)? (a) Ted Hughes; (b) Christopher Hampton; (c) Gore Vidal.

Answers: 1c, 2b, 3b, 4a, 5b, 6c, 7a, 8d, 9c, 10b. Score and prescription:<3: return to medical school, do not pass “go,” do not collect £250, do not answer any calls from Sir Donald Irvine, who is president of (a) CHIMP; (b)CHUMP; (c) GMC? (Answer: all three?); 3-7: feel free to continue watching the Simpsonsevery evening; >7: you have enough knowledge to abandon medical practice and become president of the quango of your choice.