The past week has proven unproductive and I failed to find anything about science to write about. My dottering age may be a contributing factor.  

Instead, I will do some reminiscing about my life and provide my thoughts about the world in general. To quote Socrates, “an unexamined life is not worth living.”  

To begin, if someone would  ask me to describe three unusual events in my life of interest and in no particular order, I would include: (1) that I have danced with the ballerina who also danced on stage with two of the greatest male ballet dancers, (2) that I had lunch with the gentleman who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1970 and (3) that I accompanied the late Honus Wagner in a car on his way to a speaking engagement. (For those not acquainted with him, Honus is considered the greatest shortstop of all time, and his baseball card sold for more than $50,000 at auction.)

Some explanation is required. For clarification, for (1) I’ve been told that I am as graceful as an earthquake especially on the dance floor.  I have, however, danced with my daughter, who performed with a New York dance company, and she had danced with Nureyev and Baryshnikov. At that time, both were the most famous Russian performers.   For (2), I did have lunch with Joshua Lederberg, who won the prize for his seminal work in bacteriology. He barely spoke to me, or even acknowledged my presence. For (3), I sat in the car with my basketball coach while we waited outside of a bar in Carnegie, Pa., for Honus to have a beer or two before he was called on to speak at an engagement in nearby Pittsburgh. Unlike Lederberg, he did say hello.   

Wish List

Now that you know my highlights, I can follow with the top three things I wish I had done. First, would be to become proficient in a second language, preferably French. (Some would say that about my English.) I continue my quest and even dabble in Spanish and German, to no avail. I should have started while in my teens.

The second, is to play an instrument, either piano, guitar, or clarinet. I did take clarinet lessons in high school, but didn’t practice long and hard enough to learn much.

Third, to understand and use mathematics and statistics well enough to read scientific papers with more clarity and expertise.  

I am being modest when I limit the list to three of course, here are others I might have added to the list, more knowledge about logic, philosophy, art, religion, investing, ancient history, carpentry, astronomy, cooking, psychology,  etc, etc.  

Credit

On the plus side, I do give myself credit for writing this column for three years or more and either editing or publishing five books.  For the books, I edited, I thank the many contributors for their expertise and perseverance.

Suggestions For A More Intellectual Society

As to the future, and to benefit mankind, I would suggest that educators turn back the clock and consider teaching the trivium, courses in logic, rhetoric and grammar.  

This could be followed by the  quadrivium, courses in music, astronomy, arithmetic and geometry. They are all basic concepts.  

According to a professor at Hillsdale College, the trivium and quadrivium lead us to speak with clarity and lead students to a see a unified idea of reality. He notes that humans communicate using words with the natural order in numbers and in quantities.  By discerning those natural relationships, we come to better understand the cosmos.  

The trivium should be pursued first – it focuses on different ways you can attend to words. Grammar is used in rhetoric for example. All of them move toward a proper presentation of the truth.    Critical thinking classes are a good way to start.

Critical thinking is defined as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying and analyzing information gathered from observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication as a guide to belief and action.

Youngsters

 Society must make an effort to focus on correcting all of the time lost educating our younger generation brought on by the pandemic and the diverse methods of treatment.   One more thing, teachers can’t be expect to do it all, parents are equally responsible and they should be more involved in education programs and school selection.  

Final Thoughts  

In my opinion, one way to become a better parent is to encourage children to set goals for themselves even if they are considered an overreach.  Start by having children make their beds each morning. In addition, I would limit the use of cell phones and other social media.  For cell phones it is better not to know how to use them than to be committed to them.  The idle time spent searching the web could be used to read a good book.

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry.  His new book “Science Snippets” is available from Amazon and other book sellers. It contains a number of previously published columns.  He can be reached by email at  maxsherman339@gmail.com.