On the occasion of an interesting article published in Science in July 2012:
‘Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of
Having Information at Our Fingertips’
(Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu and Daniel M. Wegner; 15 July 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6040 p. 277).
Two thousand five hundred years ago, Plato wrote that reading had created
a generation of pedants who believe they know everything but master nothing:
“For this <the art of writing> will cause forgetfulness in the minds of those who have learned,
because they will neglect their memory.
Having put their trust in writing, they will recall to memory things from outside,
by means of external marks; not from inside themselves, by themselves.
You have invented a pharmakon not for memory, but for reminding” (Totelin, 2009).
In Ancient times, doctors did not have the luxury of easy access to information, as we do today.
Before the 5th century BC no book on medicine really existed.
This meant that oral tradition was very important.
People had to pay attention and remember what they heard.
A good memory was necessary and, when combined with experience in the practice of medicine,
it distinguished a good from a bad doctor.
As Plato said, if you experience something, know it from within yourself,
then you have a memory of it.
The art of medicine can be acquired through practicing it,
not through reading about it.
This is even more relevant today with the available technology and information overload.