Sunday, January 9, 2011

Two anti-pimping gambits

Pimping, in the medical context, is the act of asking a junior person deliberately challenging or obscure questions in public and then denigrating them for not knowing the answer, ostensibly in the service of education.  An excellent guide to pimping has already been published over there and I recommend it heartily. In response, I have recently developed a couple of useful gambits for diverting pimpage.

The Strawman Gambit: Make a purposefully inaccurate statement in response to the question, attributing the factoid to a previous instructor, and subtly indicate that you yourself don't quite think this is right.  Correctly executed, this gambit will divert the pimp into attacking your previous instructor rather than yourself.  True example:

What do you know about thiopentone?

I've gotten the impression that it's a bit outdated, kind of a World War 2 relic, which made me wonder why it's still being used.

Whoever told you that is a fucking dickhead.

The Polarizer Gambit: Most useful in response to a pimp that you know absolutely nothing about so you can't even bluff successfully, this gambit involves making a joke which candidly exposes your ignorance but seeks to distract the pimper with a humorous reference to a different topic which tends to produce strong feelings one way or the other and thus changes the direction of the conversation.  I find that this works best with Intelligent Design vs Evolution, as in this true example:

What's your take on the Strong Ion theory of acid-base homeostasis?

I think they should teach both sides of the controversy.

Ha ha, those fucking Americans have no idea do they?

Good luck using these gambits in your daily life.  If you have a notable success or if you come with other ideas, please let me know!


Anonymous said...

This much forethought is beginning to sound a bit like you might actually be over-achiever. I mean that in the slackest way possible, you neurotic PTR you.

PTR said...

Yet I published the results of my brain-busting on this little-read blob where hardly anybody will ever read it rather than submit it to a journal. I think I'm an underachiever.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad that the "practice" is widespread enough amongst Doctors to need its own term. What a demeaning way to "teach".

What's the opposite of pimping? Is there a practice of asking Dorothy Dixers so that the student can look good?

PTR said...

Hear hear! It's just one of the many stupid things about medicine that I hate.

I think the theory goes like this:
1. Ask student impossible question.
2. Student humiliated by ignorance.
3. Further humiliate student by questioning competence and commitment.
4. Student swears to show you how wrong you are and works arse off.
5. Student then does this to own students because "that's how I learned".

And no, there is NO opposite of pimping. The Dorothy Dixer is an unknown phenomenon in medicine.