Friday, June 26, 2009

Anatomy Quiz

I have many "favorite" expressions for use in describing people and situations, but near the top is this one: "He's so dumb, he couldn't find his own ass with both hands and a flashlight."

As it turns out, this expression isn't as funny as I thought it was.

According to this recent article on, more than half of those questioned on a health awareness test were not able to locate the heart on a body diagram, and almost 70% didn't know the shape of the lungs. The organs most easily identified were the intestines (85.9% correct - obviously based on a gut feeling) and the bladder (80.7% correct). I suspect that the strong showing of the bladder results from years of experience squirming in seats waiting for endless meetings to draw to a close.

The story says that the team which administered the quiz expected that people would now know more about their body, given the accessibility of information on the Internet and the proliferation of health stories in the news media. Of course, the information about the body readily available on the Internet is largely contained in porn sites, which might tend to skew the quiz results ... chances are that Mike and Fiona, for instance, would easily be able to identify the boobs, but might fare less well with the medulla oblangata or the islands of Langerhans. Another researcher was quoted in the story as saying that "Very many Americans don't even know where New Jersey is, so how would they know where their pancreas is?"

The pancreas isn't the body part I'd automatically associate with New Jersey, but that's not important now.

The actual point of the original article was that the average person has a low level of understanding of the structure, function, and proper care of his body. This is a fair criticism. Jimmy Buffett wasn't too far off the mark in his song "Fruitcakes," in which a lady scolds her boyfriend by telling him "I treat my body like a temple, you treat yours like a tent."

Perhaps our biggest health care problem isn't the lack of affordable health care or the venality of insurance companies, but a simple lack of knowledge about our bodies. After all, if - as my father would have said - a particular individual doesn't know his ass from his elbow, chances are he won't understand the advice given by the doctor at his HMO who billed him for procedure 19067.33.526.8. And we all know that most extreme-right Republicans, extreme-left Democrats, and people in the Middle East are born without functioning brains, but that's a discussion for another day.

Have a good day. Tomorrow, Cartoon Saturday will help with your mental health ... one way or the other.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

I truly don't believe the problem is affordable health care. Its out there. The problem is the affordable health care that doesn't cover anything because the deductibles are too high.

Amanda said...

While you're discussing affordable health care. I'm looking for plain old health care here. I think I've mentioned before that for some here, budgeting for health care includes budgeting for airfares to get to doctors.

Gilahi said...

Looks like you need to change your favorite phrase. One of my favorites is, "He's so dumb he couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel."

We folks from the south are so, um, colorful.

Leslie David said...

Fruitcakes--spread them crumbs around, hahahaha!

Mike said...

I thought medulla oblangata was a tall female with snakes coming out of her head.

SusieQ said...

There's a rumor going around that the Islands of Langerhans can be found in the area of the pancreas. But if I know my geography, they are located in the Pacific just off the coast of Canada.