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October 4, 2023

Musk and Rand

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson is a book worthy of your time. He is an amazing writer and the context and content are so timely for the happenings of today.

The story of Elon Musk remains one to be completely written, but it is being partially displayed in this new book that I am in the early stages of reading. The truth of the matter remains that Elon suffered some significant traumas as a child that have vexed him throughout his life. However, the triumph of his story that is an amazing lesson for all is that the traumas do not define your trajectory nor final outcome. Elon has proven what many others have before him. That in this country, you are the architect of your destiny. Your are NOT defined by your past in anyway. You are NEVER a victim unless you choose that path. You can always choose to rise above trauma and pain to be your best self. This is not to say that the trauma does not weigh on you and your psyche. To the contrary, as Elon clearly demonstrates, the past is in all of us. It will rise up at times to haunt us. Therein lies your work, to witness, work through and rise above it.

We are not all as smart as Elon, that is obvious. But we can all choose to be as smart and work as hard as we can with our God given talents. What will you choose? How will you raise your children? Being the victim does not serve.

Some simple truths that espoused by Elon in the book by Walter Issacson

First principles - I truly love this reality and 100% believe in this for medicine and health. “Boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, 'OK, what are we sure is true, or as sure as possible is true? ' And then reason up from there.” Going back upstream to the roots of human disease remains a first principle for me.

End to end control of a products/program's outcome. Another absolute for me. I want to know the whole team affecting a child's outcome. I want people that are committed to the child first not themselves. Loyalty to a child first mentality is paramount to a child's success. I would not want someone on our team that does not believe this because to please self first will get in the way of the child's best outcome.

Rigorous attention to detail. Every member of a team needs to be attentive to every detail. A child's life is worth that much.

Alongside the Musk book, I will add the Fountainhead critique that I randomly wrote a few weeks ago as Walter Isaacson speaks to this reality in the podcast with Lex Fridman when he talks about the stifling of innovation by critics, lawyers and regulators.

The Fountainhead - written by Ayn Rand, remains a favorite book for me. The world around us seems so polarized and dysfunctional in media speak and in the halls of power. Most people that I meet are kind and thoughtful with a distaste for the polarity and division. The average person that I speak to cares for each other and especially their family. They do not want what appears to be happening around us from a top down view regardless of race, color or creed. They do not see division where it is being sewn on TV, social media and in print. It is dysfunctional to me that news media on TV is primarily sponsored "paid for" by pharmaceutical companies. (Statista) One Company, Abbvie spent 500 million dollars and TV ads to promote Humira according to Fierce Pharma. What are they buying with that money? How are they altering the news media landscape? Are we still getting news without spin? Nope. Read this article by Forbes for more. This one by Scientific American is Faustian. All in all, Ayn Rand's fears are coming to life.

Ayn Rand was onto something all those years ago. She understood the values and virtues needed for a just and functioning society not driven by the non doers, the critics, the "thinkers", the "intelligentsia". The key word here, however, is virtue. 

1) Individualism: she discusses the idea of individualism and the importance of staying true to one's own values and principles. This is not the same as selfishness. It is far from it in truth. It is to not be swayed by the tribalism of today, i.e. woke culture ideology, polarized hate of the opposite, group think, etc.... In a world where conformity and groupthink can be prevalent, the book encourages individuals to think independently and stand up for their ideas. This is so important in medicine where group think is all too common, i.e. covid mistakes, protocol systems. Medicine has long been an art form where thinking about the individual is the key to a better outcome. Medicine should never head in a direction of group think. This is a truth to teach our children. Think, don't follow blindly, while you learn from others. 

2) Creativity and Innovation: She celebrates the creative process and the pursuit of innovation. It emphasizes the importance of originality and the value of new ideas in various fields, including architecture and art. Think of Dr. Jenner today trying the first vaccine! Would have been called a quack. We should celebrate the inegenuity and not the average.

3) Objectivism: This is a central theme in the novel. She advocates rational self-interestindividual rights, and laissez-faire capitalism. These ideas can be relevant in discussions about ethics, politics, and economics even in contemporary times. We need to push for individual rights. The bill of rights and the framing of the constitution are a study in these ideals. Self interest is not the same as selfishness. It is the right to express the self and pursue life, liberty and happiness. It is the American Dream full stop.

4) Anti-Collectivism: The novel critiques collectivism and the dangers of sacrificing individual rights and freedoms for the greater good. It serves as a reminder to be wary of excessive government control and the erosion of personal liberties. The entire COVID experience in medicine shook the foundations of normalcy in America through group think, media tale telling and fear mongering. I do not want to be compelled to follow bad science for the "greater good". The post mortem on COVID 19 decisions is a sad tale of poor study and worse decision making. I am still waiting for the CDC to discuss how nutrition plays a central role in disease risk and COVID outcome as it remains the primary driver of the four horseman of COVID death: hypertension, CVD, diabetes and obesity. Yet, we are still hearing the solid drum beat for vaccines, masks and avoidance.

5) Relevance in Professional Life: the book offers insights into the challenges faced by creative professionals who refuse to compromise their vision and principles. It encourages professionals to persevere in their pursuits, even when faced with opposition. This is again so true today where speaking out against the mainstream is a cancelable offense. This is not the way a just and debate friendly society operates. 

This book is a worthy read for all who seek to understand some of the struggles of today. I especially highlight the character Ellsworth Toohey, who is a prominent antagonist in the novel, an influential architecture critic, and a manipulative intellectual. Toohey is skilled at using his charm and wit to gain influence over others and to promote his collectivist (socialist) ideology or what he thinks is right and nothing else is ok. He bashes Howard Roark who is brilliant and creative in the architecture world. Toohey represents the epitome of collectivism and seeks to destroy individuality and independent thinking, making him a danger to an honorable and free society. The context of the American dream is seek, work, liberty and growth. It is what makes this country so special. 

This is my opinion clearly and always debatable. The beauty of a just and free society. 

Just my 2 cents, 

Dr. M