Remember Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting? He's a mathematical genius but, because of personal problems, was working as a night janitor at MIT. He anonymously solved a mathematical proof that was left on a blackboard by the math professor as a challenge for his students. Flabbergasted that the solution suddenly appeared on the blackboard, but who did it?
Anyway, Damon's character's intellect is mind-blowing, but sometimes a solution to a complex problem does not require a genius IQ, but instead relies on simple pattern recognition and taking a basic history of events. If only experts would remember this.
For example, the New England Journal of Medicine just reported a case of scurvy in a toddler who was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The symptoms consisted of pain in the hips and legs, such that the child was unable to walk, and she had swelling of her gums with bleeding. She was anemic. Many illnesses could cause these symptoms, most worrisome being infection and various cancers. The child underwent a mind-boggling series of tests (including a bone marrow biopsy) that failed to reveal a diagnosis, but a history (obtained later) revealed that the child had feeding problems and was almost exclusively milk-fed (milk not having any ascorbic acid, i.e., vitamin C, in it). Problem solved!
So, a basic, simple approach is often the best place to start—and can make you, too, look like a genius!
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