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Things that Were Hard Turned Out to be Soft

Norman Cousins, after his experiences at UCLA Medical School, notes a common misunderstanding about what is “real” and “unreal.” In Bob Benson’s He Speaks Softly, Cousins is quoted: “The words ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ are generally used by medical students to describe the contrasting nature of courses. Courses like biochemistry, physics, pharmacology, anatomy, and pathology are anointed with the benediction of ‘hard’ whereas subjects like medical ethics, philosophy, history, and patient-physician relationships tend to labor under the far less auspicious label ‘soft.’ . . (but) a decade or two after graduation there tends to be an inversion. That which was supposed to be hard turns out to be soft, and vice versa. The knowledge base of medicine is constantly changing . . . But the soft subjects—especially those that have to do with intangibles—turn out in the end to be of enduring value.”

Vernon Grounds