When my mother was preparing her will she came to a curious decision. “Kent,” she said, “there’s a section in which I have to name a person to decide, if I’m incapacitated, whether heroic measures should be made to save my life. I think your father and brother would get too emotional about it. But I think you’d make the rational choice.”
Kind of a dubious honor, don’t you think? Getting to decide whether your mother lives or dies? And does this mean I was her favorite? Luckily, we had a family discussion and decided it would be a group decision between the three of us.
I tell this story to underscore the point that throughout most of my life I’ve been regarded as the calm, rational one. A nickname for me in the family is “the diplomat” because of my ability to see both sides of a dispute, and not offer offense to anybody.
Which is why it was absolutely puzzling to me when I started raising questions about the harm from vaccines, so many of my friends and family acted like I’d gone completely nuts. After all, what happened to the previous thirty-nine years of being the calm, rational, honest to a fault person?
Which is why when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book, it was as if a light went off in my head. The main question raised in his book is why interactions with people often go spectacularly wrong.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was his discussion of the disgraced financier, Bernie Madoff, who stole billions from investors. It should have been an open and shut-case. Madoff was reporting consistent returns for his clients, regardless of what the stock market was doing. Could he really be that good? I mean, is there anything more black and white than a balance sheet?