Category Archives: Health

Amnesia

…and the self that remains when memory is lost.

This is the concern of cryonicists: what is the nature of identity?

If you don’t have any recollection of your own past, are you still you? If you forget who you are, but have maintained a record of your life, when you go back and read it and refamiliarize yourself, are you “you” again? If so, why wouldn’t anyone who read it become “you”? And if that is “you,” then why not just clone yourself and educate the clone with your memories? Intuitively, it feels like it might be someone else who thinks it’s you, but it’s not really you. Of course, Star-Trek-like teleportation has the same problem — is the person who stepped out of the transporter you, or a physical copy of you with the same memories? Is that continuity sufficient? How does it differ from the you that went to bed last night and woke up this morning (or in my case, the several mes that woke up repeatedly during the night)? Is that the same continuity, or one different in kind?

I’m sure that I’ve told this story before, but years ago, at the California Science Museum in Exposition Park, there was a display on health and medical ethics and it had various questions to poll the visitors. One of them was:

You have an inoperable brain tumor. If a donor became available because their body had failed, would you accept a brain transplant to save your life?

An astonishing number of people said “yes.” Which means they apparently had difficulty with the concept.

The Doctor Won’t See You Now

Thoughts on the current state of the American health-care system, from Mark Steyn:

They gave her the usual form to fill in, full of perceptive inquiries on her medical condition: Do you wear a seat belt? Do you own a gun? How many bisexual men are you now having sex with? These would be interesting questions if one were signing up for eHarmony.com and looking to date gun-owning bisexuals who don’t wear seat belts, but they were not immediately relevant to her medical needs. Nevertheless, she complied with the diktats of the Bureau of Compliance, and had her medical records transferred, and waited . . . and waited. That was August. She has now been informed that she has an appointment with a nurse-practitioner at the end of January. My friend pays $15,000 a year for health insurance. In northern New Hampshire, that and meeting the minimum-entry requirement of bisexual sex partners will get you an appointment with a nurse-practitioner in six months’ time.

Why is it taking so long? Well, because everything in America now takes long, and longer still. But beyond that malign trend are more specific innovations, such as the “Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology,” which slipped through all but unnoticed in Subtitle A Part One Section 3001 of the 2009 Obama stimulus bill. Under the Supreme National Coordinator, the United States government is setting up a national database for everybody’s medical records, so that if a Texan hiker falls off Mount Katahdin after walking the Appalachian Trail, Maine’s first responders will be able to know exactly how many bisexual gun-owners she’s slept with, and afford her the necessary care.

If she’s really paying over a thousand a month for insurance, she’s overpaying. She should cut back to a high-deductible catastrophic plan, and just pay the doctor (or nurse practitioner) herself.

And ObamaCare is just going to make all this much worse.