Thursday, October 10, 2013

Doctors Who Smoke

Carrying forward from my last post, I think of the most perfect example of people who don't follow their own advice: doctors who smoke.

There is nothing more confusing and mildly offensive than seeing doctors who smoke. It's like, here they are telling you to exercise more and eat better, and yet, you can smell the cigarette smoke on their breath. You can see their yellowed teeth. You wonder how on earth they can possibly be allowed to dispense medical advice when they themselves partake in such unhealthy habits. You wonder if you should believe anything they say.

Here is the problem with doctors who smoke: just because they don't take their own advice doesn't make them wrong. If a doctor smokes a pack a day, but tries to convince you to quit smoking, it is good advice. If a doctor tells you to lift weights and eat less sugar, it doesn't matter if he weighs 350 pounds; you will be healthier if you take that advice, regardless of the fact that you are already healthier than the doctor.

We have a very nasty habit of judging advice by the person that dispenses it. I understand why it happens and I know the many ways that we can rationalize and justify it. But it's still stupid. Advice exists independently of the quality of the person that speaks it. When somebody says what you ought to do, forget the person and judge the concept on its own. If the advice is good, then take it. If it's not, then avoid it. But no matter what, don't choose to smoke just because your doctor smokes too. And don't continue to write poorly just because you don't like the person who is giving you advice.

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