Detectives gather clues to build up the case, they do not limit themselves to one clue. Yet doctors might hobble their patients to one symptom. The story[i] below “the elephant in the dark house” also shows how a blinkered approach may not give the full picture.

“The elephant was in a dark house; some Hindus had brought it for exhibition.

In order to see it, many people were going, every one, into that darkness.
As seeing it with the eye was impossible, [each one] was feeling it in the dark with the palm of his hand..
The hand of one fell on its trunk; he said: “This creature is like a water-pipe.”
The hand of another touched its ear: to him it appeared to be like a fan.
Since another handled its leg, he said: “I found the elephant’s shape to be like a pillar.”
Another laid his hand on its back: he said, “Truly, this elephant was like a throne.”
Similarly, whenever anyone heard [a description of the elephant]. he understood [it only in respect of] the part that he had touched.
On account of the [diverse] place [object] of view, their statements differed: one man titled it “dal [3],” another “alif.”
If there had been a candle in each one’s hand, the difference would have gone out of their words.”

Is the candle of discovery for the physician thoroughness?

 

Striving for aequanimitas,

 

John Mary Meagher

 

[i]

The legend comes from the Pali in the 200 bce. The Sufi master Jalal ud-din-i Rumi (1207-1273 c.e.) used the story n his Mathnawi.

 

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