2 years and 159 days. Caveat Emptor.

The unexamined life is not worth living. — Socrates

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai,

I miss you so much!  Most days, I struggle to compartmentalize and contain my fears for you … otherwise, I would be rendered a completely useless, blubbering mess.  Where are you? How are you? Are you doing okay? Do you miss me?  Do you think of me as often as I think of you?  Are you happy?

We must play the hand we are dealt, so here we are.  Let’s do the best we can under the circumstances until we are together once again.

Today, let’s talk about being critical thinkers.  Critical analysis is one of those fundamental skills which you must master.  Without it, you are reduced to being a mule to carry the load selected by others.  Let me explain.

First, with few exceptions, all of life is about sales … about people selling something, and trying to get you to buy.  The “something” can be a good (like a new video game), a service (like a lawyer), or even a person (like a girl who wants you to be her boyfriend).

Second, the world is full of charlatans and fraudsters, telling us we must buy this or do that because it is good for us or because it is the best thing.  Too often, they lied.  They have their best interests at heart (e.g., earn millions from encouraging fools to buy their wares), not yours. The video game may be a bust, the lawyer may be incompetent in the area he wants you to hire him for, or the girl may be beautiful on the exterior but ugly and mean inside.

It is your job to be a critical consumer of all that life offers.  Caveat emptor is the Latin phrase that means “Let the buyer beware.” You are the buyer.  Beware.  Ask questions.  Think.  Look for discrepancies. Seek the advice and recommendations of those you trust.

Sometimes, you may find it easier to use short cuts to figure out the trustworthiness of the seller.  For example, you might want to rely on someone’s pedigree to cut short the analysis.  It is not a bad strategy, but you must make sure you are using the right measure, and that the measure is valid.

Let’s say, for example, you want to go to a new physician.  You review his pedigree, check with the medical board for the state to see if he is licensed and in good standing with the board, check the internet to see his ratings, etc.

This sounds reasonable enough, but is it?  For example, Reuter reported that according to the Indian Medical Association, “About 45 percent of the people in India who practice medicine have no formal training… These 700,000 unqualified doctors have been found practicing at some of India’s biggest hospitals, giving diagnoses, prescribing medicines and even conducting surgery.  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/special-report-why-indias-medical-schools-are-plagued-with-fraud/ar-BBldvfQ.

A number of Indian-trained physicians practice medicine in the United States.  One such physician was hired by Kaiser Permanente and subsequently dubbed “Doctor Death” because he was linked to at least 87 deaths.  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7991906/ns/health-health_care/t/australias-dr-death-linked-fatalities/.  (According to news reports, Kaiser knew about this doctor’s dangerous and injurious medical practices but gave him stellar references that enabled him to be hired elsewhere, where he proceeded to kill other patients.  http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianextra/2009/02/_australia_ready_to_charge.html.)

The point here is not to pick on Indian-trained physicians, but to stress the importance of thinking critically. Why?  Because YOU ARE ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR DECISIONS.

Here, the process of choosing a physician appears, at first blush, to be simple and straight-forward.  But, it quickly gets complicated.  A physician may have had his medical license revoked in one state, but be licensed in another state.  He may not have received medical training at all…

Okay, let me get back to what I said earlier about being a mule.  Don’t allow yourself to be fooled into carrying the burdens of charlatans.  For example, they say you MUST drive a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz to show that you are successful.  They say you must spend at least three months of your salary on the diamond engagement ring.

Don’t buy into the hype.  Who cares if people think you are successful or unsuccessful?  Success or failure is defined by you, and no one else.  And, if the girl won’t marry you unless you give her a big diamond ring, then she is not be the right girl for you as she is overly concerned about material matters.  Marriage is about love, and a life-time commitment to each other, not about the size of the diamond.

If you do decide to listen to “them,” then you have, in essence, agreed to be their mule and carry their load so that they may buy a bigger house, a newer car, etc., for themselves.  Why would you want that?  Think for yourself.

For example, a car serves a function.  Get the safest and most dependable car you can afford.  If that happens to be a Mercedes-Benz, then so be it.  However, make sure it is your decision, and not that of others.

Remember what I always said was your best weapon?  That’s right: your brain.  Use it.  Think.  Be the problem solvers I taught you to be.  I know you can do it because you are the best of me.

All my love, always,
Dad

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