Views & Reviews From the Frontline

War of the words

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 15 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3021
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

What we perceive as intelligence is 10% intellect and 90% presentation. A serious expression, the right accent, a knowledge of literature and classical music, and a propensity for attending the theatre are the trappings of the intelligent elite. At medical school you could know who the intelligent were: they were in the library with their intellectual status symbols, piles of thick textbooks and research papers, slowly digesting facts to be vomited up in exams.

For facts are the currency of the bright—safe, certain, yet often dangerously wrong. I was a crammer. My only books were lecture notes, illustrated guides, and …

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