Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jesus the Paradox

I read the book of Matthew in a sitting and had a very startling revelation: Jesus is a paradox. GK Chesterton has suggested this in his amazing book "Orthodoxy" (If you have not yet read this book, immediately stop reading this page and navigate here to read it, here to buy it, or here to listen to it; it's far better than anything I could write). I wrote this yesterday (1/23/08) in my journal:

He is violent and benevolent. Loving and hating. he blesses the children and curses the pharisees. He accuses Peter for using a sword and himself wields a whip. He blesses the peacemakers, but then declares He has not come to bring peace but a sword. He condemns separation through divorce, and then promises it through faith.

He is extreme, and even puritanical, condemning the most righteous to hell; but then He eats with sinners and declares they are His mission. He says man does not live by bread alone, and then makes bread. He says to love your neighbor as yourself and then shouts hateful things about the pharisees. He shuts up the mouths of those who would worship Him, and later He arranges it.

Such a perfect paradox is more than human.

Jesus was not just Felt-Board Jesus, but He included Him. The sense of love, acceptance and comfort that is so important a part of who we are as human beings was perfectly and fully expressed by Christ. But this was not his entirety.

Jesus was not just Fire-and-Brimstone Jesus, but He included Him. Out instincts towards justice, our pursuit of power and glory, our restlessness and sense of adventure are in their fullness in Jesus.

Life is a balance and a paradox; we can learn so much about this proper balance from our Lord.


I have had several recent epiphanies that have shaken my comfortable equilibrium.

  • We are owners and heirs, not beggars. It is not we who should or could ever be ashamed, for we are Sons of the Kingdom. We are in a superior position to the rest of the world, so should never be embarrassed to speak with any of our subjects regardless of the circumstances.
  • Mockery is something to be desired, though perhaps not sought directly. We ought to glory in our sufferings, not complain and fear them.
  • We are off the track, no longer a car in Disneyland Autopia with two feet of freedom. We are truly free to go where we will, and finally to follow Christ through the wilderness and into the Promised Land.
  • Modern Christianity is truly an imprisoning track. It has negative commands but few positive ones, except selfish ones. There is no reason for prayer, no purpose to sharpening our sword and no point to drilling with our brothers in arms, for there is no war. We have constructed a fort in enemy territory rather than assaulting. He is quite content to siege it, cutting us off from his land and preventing any real damage to his territory, and causing our starvation in our fort.
  • I now have peace now that I don't know the future. I cannot worry about the future for I no longer pretend to see it. I know only that there are dangers, risks and adventures before me, that Christ is at my side, and that I cannot ultimately fail.
  • This drastic and passionate paradox of security in victory and total ignorance of circumstance beautifully describes this aspect of the faith. "The lion lays down with the Lamb." Only in Christianity is such a ludicrous desire matched by so ridiculous doctrine.
[Journal entry written 1:00AM on 1/23/08]

Friday, January 18, 2008

Evolution of Christianity

While in class, we learned about the mechanisms of evolution of life. There are four ways that life develops. Anyways, I got the idea that maybe the same mechanisms apply to ideas. I will describe each mechanism, how it applies to life, and the analogy to ideas using Christianity as a particular example of an idea.

Natural Selection
Natural selection is generally what you think of when you hear "survival of the fittest." The main idea is that the fit organisms reproduce, passing their genes to the next generation while the others don't. In the case of a finch, those with the stoutest beaks on an island of hard nuts wouldn't starve as often and so have more stout-beaked finches. Also, a fit animal must produce offspring that can themselves reproduce. An animal that has sterile offspring has no fitness.

"Fitness" then is defined generally by the ability to pass on genes. Actual survival value is not always necessary. For example, peacocks are very poor fliers because of their huge tails; but those with big tails mate better, so flight is sacrificed for appearance.

For ideas, 'fit' ideas are those which are passed on. The Gospel, for example, has excellent fitness, as it has been passed on from a single individual to now around 2 billion. Gnosticism went extinct because of the superior fitness of Christianity. The "fitness" of a Christian, then, is his or her ability to transmit that faith to others. Also, if these converts do not themselves convert others (are 'sterile'), then the Christian is not fit.

Truth is like survival value; truth increases believer's ability to live fulfilled lives (e.g. people who believe in loving their neighbor as themsleves lead more fulfilled lives than those who don't). Like survival value, it is not necessary for a fit idea to be true; like exaggerated tail feathers, false ideas that look good may transmit despite the detriment to the believer.

Genetic Drift
Genetic drift is the natural variations in the expected based on chance. It's like how a blue eyed woman and a brown eyed man may have four blue-eyed children. It's most likely they would have two blue-eyed and two brown-eyed children, but it just didn't turn out that way. In a population, the incidence of blue eyed individuals may be like this family and go up simply due to chance. This is genetic drift.

The effects of genetic drift are increased when populations are small. In the case of the family (initial population size of 2), the brown-eye gene was completely eliminated in the next generation simply by chance. This is much less likely with large populations; the population's genetics don't drift as far when the population is large.

Ideas can also vary greatly from any initial starting point. Christianity has strayed, greatly at times, from the original teachings of Jesus. It could be said that the idea of justification by faith completely disappeared in the Western European population of Christians in the early middle ages.

This effect is pronounced when populations are small. Cults form when too few people isolate themselves from the rest of the population. Early in the church when the population was tiny, heresy abounded in the Gnostics and Judiazers.

Gene Flow
Gene flow is transfer of genetic material between populations. It's like a brown eyed person moving to Holland to get married. A brown-eye gene will be transferred to the Dutch population which doesn't have very much of it. Gene flow works to limit genetic drift. In other words, it makes populations seem bigger (genetically) than they are. There are more genes available, so drift is lessened.

Like genes, humans can exchange information through writing. With ideas, collaboration keeps ideas from drifting. Paul's letters allowed isolated and small populations of believers in Ephesus to limit their tendency to drift towards heresy. Likewise with science, the Literature and the peer-review process prevents the flow of ideas from drifting.

Here is the fun one. Mutation is a random change in the genes of an organism. It may be caused by a mutagen (like in Ninja Turtles), or even something as simple as sunlight (UV is particularly nasty to DNA). This process eventually leads to the creation of new genetic material and thus new adaptations which, if they increase the fitness of an organism, would be maintained in the population. Mutations, however, are almost always detrimental and usually are eliminated in the first generation. Mutation is the only mechanism that can actually create new genetic information; all other processes only manage or modify existing information.

In ideas, mutation seems to correlate with revelation or epiphany. Most of human interaction is exchanging old ideas (gene flow). It is very rare that anyone thinks of anything novel. Rather, it is rare that a novel idea is actually fit (people pass it on) or true. There are many, many new ideas that are wrong and stupid that people have but no one repeats.

Focusing again on Christianity, Jesus was the first to introduce this new idea to the world; it turned out to be very fit and very true so survived and was passed on. It can be said that people like Paul, Aquinas and Luther may have all added information and ideas to Christianity that were truly novel and passable. In Luther's case, he caused an insertion of information that had been lost due to the "genetic drift" of the Catholic church during the Middle Ages.

Anyways, it was a fun thing to think about. I have not thought out the implications or further applications of this idea as yet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Clash of the Titans?

I was asked at an interview at Yale medical school to explain my position on the conflict between Science and Faith. I have often been asked this question, and have frequently thought about it. Most often, the questioner means the conflict between Reason and Faith.

The question has always struck me as an odd one; I have never really seen a conflict but have heard several arguments in favor of one. There is the political conflict, the peer-pressure argument, the straw man conflict and the philosophical conflict.

But don't all the smart people believe in science? Historically speaking, the most scientific of people have been men of vibrant faith. Newton wrote over a million words on the Bible and Kepler was very devout. Bacon, the man who came up with the very idea of science, openly ridiculed science apart from faith. He said he'd rather "...believe all the fables in the Legend... than that this universal frame is without a mind." Even contemporarily, there are many brilliant scientists who have sincere faiths. Francis Collins, the co-cracker of the human genome describes his faith in "The Language of God."

The political argument begins with, "Well what about Galileo?" The view being that the Church (which the questioner assumes is the same as the philosophical concept as Faith) persecuted the noble and humble scientist for his findings. This argument is silly for a number of reasons. Firstly, the story is wrong. Galileo was a mischievous man who, while brilliant, was less than shrews when he publicly mocked the most powerful man in the world and got off with house arrest.

More importantly, political groups fighting, be they ancient or modern, does not mean that there is any actual conflict that matters for you and me. Politicians fight over all sorts of meaningless things that may or may not be real. The important question is not, "Are people fighting about it?" (because the answer is always yes) but rather, "Do I see a conflict?"

This brings us to the Philosophical conflict. The assumption here is there is some underlying conflict between reason and faith. There are two Titans; if one is winning, the other must be losing. The most immature of these views is the straw man and it goes something like this. "Faith is believing something in contrary to proof. Reason is believing something because of proof." My apologies to a majority of my readers who hold this view, but this is plainly stupid. I have been a conservative Christian for a decade and have never heard such a view preached. This is a straw man, assuming a definition of faith that no one believes and then glorying in the carnage of straw.

There is, however, a legitimate conflict between reason and faith for most people that is more than imagined. This dispute arises because of certain assumptions we have made as a society. Primarily: the only true things are measurable. Gravity, which is measured to be 9.81 m/s^2 is real; God, who cannot be measured, is therefore not real, at least not in the same sense. He may exist in the same place my preference for vanilla ice cream exists: an unreal and totally subjective place.This assumption about the universe is more un-testable than the God it purports to make irrelevant. How do you test the statement: “everything that is real is testable.”

In fact, you know that the opposite is true. You know for certain that you think, but there is no instrument that can prove this. Machines can prove blood flow to a brain, but not thought or conscious existence. Every day you depend on the laws of logic (like "a thing is itself") which have no basis in the measurable or scientific. Science itself depends on what you knew was a certainty in kindergarten, that Cinderella is Cinderella and not Snow White.

There is no fundamental conflict between reason and faith, unless you have an insupportably narrow definition of reason. There are immature arguments, excuses based in bad history, and a deceptive but pervasive view about truth. If you really think through it, there is actually no fundamental conflict.

I am a reasonable man: I am a published scientist, a nearly-graduated civil engineer and an aspiring doctor. I am a man of faith: I have been diligent in studying the Word of God and living it though serving the poor and loving my neighbor. Amidst the corpses of many fallen straw-men, here I stand, my feet firmly planted on the rock of Truth, my eyes pointed towards heaven, unmoved by the whining wind, protesting against my existence as a man of faith and reason.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why I eat cows.

Here is my prompt:
Do cows know they're suffering? Should I care that they are suffering? If they're not meant to be eaten why are they so plentiful, fat, and stupid? In terms of efficiency, is it a viable plan to shift production away from livestock and towards agriculture? Is it "unhealthy" to eat red meat and can we adequately supplement a meatless diet with vitamins and supplements and what not?
I've had the vegetarian conversation several times and there are several things that can be said. There are several elements to the discussion. The first concern (#1) is an ethical one. Is it cruel or evil to eat animals? Another concern (I'll call #2) is the healthiness of it. The final (#3) is a more global concern for food supply.

#1 - Morality
Christian Argument
I believe animals have souls but not spirits. They are capable of feeling emotion and pain, but not of communing with God. Thus, my opinion is that cruelty towards them is bad. Nevertheless, they were created for our sustenance and we are given explicit permission to eat them (Gen 9:3).
The Bible exhorts: "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" (Proverbs 27:23) and that "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal..." (Proverbs 12:10).
There do seem to be horrific living conditions for animals in some of the mass farms out there, and I would prefer it if my meat came from a more humane setting. However, it is not a moral evil on the same level as murder or torture of a human would be.
Secular Perspective
Making a moral argument from a secular perspective (from whence most vegetarians argue) is rather difficult mostly because of relativism. Why do you try to impose on me your beliefs about cows? The only basis for morality could be consensus, but there is clearly not consensus for vegetarianism.
The other primary problem with the secular perspective is the lack of a spirit. There is no categorical difference between a cow and a man. Usually it is argued that it is for the difference in intelligence that the man is superior to the cow, but then stupid people seem still to be of more value than smart apes.
My point is that it is very difficult to have any reasonable opinion on animal rights without believing in some sort of Morality and Spirit.
#2 - Health
I do believe it is probably more healthy to be a vegetarian than an omnivore. However, to be a healthy vegetarian, it takes quite a lot of work to actually eat right.
Bibilcally, it seems that some of the healthiest people were vegetarians. Adam was a vegetarian, though he had free access to every tree in the garden. So in his perfect state, Man did not need meat. Daniel refused to eat the meat of Nebuchadnezzar and was the healthier for it (Dan 1:15).
"Red meat is legitimately bad for you." Except after I tried to find references to back up that, I was surprised to find controversy. Among others, this AHA editorial talks about it being more complicated, and the official 2006 AHA recommendations (you can follow the link if you're at UCLA) make no mention of limiting meat intake. It seems that it is high saturated fat/cholesterol which is the culprit, not the meat itself.
I found another study on bone-breakage. If you adjust for calcium intake, vegans break their bones as often as meat-eaters. If you don't, they break them 30% more often. In other words, if vegans ate the same amount of calcium, they would break their bones as often as meat-eaters, but they don't. Interestingly, vegetarians were statistically equivalent to meat-eaters.
Vegetarianism seems to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer (here), and may increase lifespan a bit (here). However, it seems clear that vegans are not healthy people. You could argue that they could be, but the fact is that they aren't for all their hard hard work.
This has sparked interest in me; I hope to pursue this further later. I always assumed vegetarianism was much more healthy, but it's not clearly the case. Stay tuned.
#3 World Food Supply
It has been argued that we should not eat meat because it is an inefficient use of land. More calories could be gown on the same land as is required to raise and feed cattle. This is true. I was taught in Biology that each step up the food chain is a 90% loss. The Economist stated that to produce a pound of beef, it takes 8 pound of grain.
That's why a pound of hamburger may costs $3 and a pound of flour $0.50. But when the per capita GDP of the country is $44,000, we can afford to eat hamburger. It may be that we won't have cheap food for much longer (according to the Economist). Nevertheless, we do now. And as Americans and members of the global economy, we can choose to buy what food we want.
We're not running out of food. It will soon be expensive because we want to burn it in SUVs, but we're not on the brink of worldwide starvation. There have even been some very interesting propositions to solve this distant problem. The Vertical Farm project claims it is possible to make an office building into a farm anywhere. Then it would only take electricity to produce food; the land element is satisfied.
It does seem likely in our lifetimes that meat will get more and more expensive as we do run out of land. People who are concerned about the lack of land in 50 years can ease their conscience by not eating meat. The market will make the transition a gradual one, and I plan on changing my dietary preferences then.
I do not believe that eating meat is wrong, though some of the worse mass-farms might be. It is not unhealthy to eat meat, though there may be benefits to abstaining. I do not think that world food supply is yet a concern that ought to be seriously considered in deciding to eat meat or not.
In conclusion, I believe that cows are so plentiful, fat, and stupid because I'm supposed to eat them. They are very tasty.
And that is why I eat cows.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Interview and a bonus!

Yale Interview
So I had an interview at Yale last Friday. It went well besides the fact that it got to 6 degrees. I think that is the coldest air I've ever felt. Besides that, the Yale experience was great and I had my most interesting interview yet. Usually interviewers ask you about why you want to go to medical school, questions about your application, etc. They want to see if you're the same in person as on paper.
My interviewer seemed convinced of all that before I even walked in. He was somewhat portly and sat comfortably back in his office chair. He had a South African accent and had a jovial demeanor. We talked comfortably and he laughed with great belly-laughter at quips and jokes I'd make. The first part of the conversation was rather high-level discussion on international work and the philosophy thereof. I discovered he was a classmate of Paul Farmer at Harvard, so was well familiar with his work.

He had done his research on me. In addition to reading through my application (which seemed rare for interviewers), he actually searched for the articles I wrote to the Daily Bruin and then read them. I had gathered by this point that he had atheistic leanings, and when he told me that he had read my articles, I had a pang of fear. Then he asked me how I reconciled science and faith.

I was off-guard for this question at first, but talked through it until I was speaking coherently. As I described my views, he was tracking and had even read a book that I had. I then started asking him questions. I asked if he was a particularly religious man. He said no, but had an interest nevertheless for his children's sake. He commented weakly that he personally wished he could be like I was, that is, with the two reconciled. I asked where specifically he thought there was conflict. He stopped and thought for a long time. He finally said that it was religious people who caused him not to believe. I told him that you ought not judge a faith by its parishioners any more than you judge a scientific theory by the behavior of scientists; he ought to look at the teachings of Jesus to know what Christianity truly was.

The conversation moved on to other things, but at the end of the interview, he thanked me with genuine sincerity for my opinions.

I walked out of the interview and said a prayer of thanks. God sent me all the way to New Haven, put me before an important doctor, and then had me defend the faith and share the beautiful consistency of Christianity to a man otherwise isolated from Christians. I never expected I'd be "...being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake" while interviewing (Luke 21:12). What an opportunity! Praise God!

P.S. - G.K. Chesterton
I'm very disappointed I hadn't heard of him earlier. It would have so greatly reduced the severity with which I have in the past banged my head against the wall. He is a magician, with his prose releasing us from the chains of super-rationalism, and sprinkles us with fairy dust, allowing us to ascend into the heavens (I think I sub-consciously ripped that off one of his reviewers).

But for the moment it is possible in the same solely practical manner to give a general answer touching what in actual human history keeps men sane. Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.

Incredible! That was from Orthodoxy, which I'm halfway through.

P.P.S. - Love
I was over at Andy's in Orange and I saw this cartoon. It reminded me of a previous blog I wrote about women. It came from a webcomic called .

Leadership and the Covenants

There is a series of books by a man named C.S. Forester about a Navy man who begins at the bottom and works his way up. I just finished "Hornblower and the Hotspur" and was again impressed by the character and leadership of the man. He cares deeply about his duty, far over personal gain. He believes in mercy, and forgives a man at the risk of his own life. He is cunning, and on several occasions defeats a more powerful ship with creative tactics (the naval details of which were completely lost on me as I don't know the difference between a tops'l and a jib except that they were both important in one of his clever moves). He is extremely self disciplined and is terribly harsh on himself for even the slightest lapse in judgement. He demonstrates many of the qualities of a leader that I have learned myself through experience.

The one area that I disagree is that he allows his men to believe him perfect. He even encourages a higher view of himself in places than would be justified. Even though he does the opposite when it comes to the rest of the world, in downplaying his accomplishments, he wants his men to have complete confidence in him and so exaggerates his actions before them.

I think the key difference is in the type of leadership. He, and most military people, are in absolute power and must rule as such. The alternative style that I attempt to engage in is a more team-based leadership; I desperately want those under me to themselves lead. I want to guide and direct, but I want those who are closer to the ground to be thinking as hard as they can about decisions they can see more clearly than I could. This way, I have a whole team of brains, not just one central with a collection of fragments.

In my mind, these are the two types of leadership for two kinds of teams: he Partnership vs. the Platoon. In the first, nothing is sacred; everything can be questioned for the best approach. In the second, thinking is only encouraged within the bounds of the command. Both have their place. The Platoon style leadership is much more important for people not to question orders in military situations. There is really only one way to obey the order "Charge!"; having the men think about it will only get more of them killed. On the other hand, in an academic environment, free-exchange of ideas is a powerful way to make progress. Other places like business, both can be effective.

As I pursued these thoughts, it wasn't long before I made it to the Bible.

Bible Connection
So kings in the Old Testament clearly were of the Platoon-style leadership. Their subjects didn't think unless they were commanded to. The king was perfect and his command could not be questioned. This was a model for God as He related to the people in those days, as a master to slaves. God indulges this metaphor by His frequent refers to purchasing Israel from Egypt. People did not have to think about what was right or what to do; God gave them 613 specific things they had to do.

In the New Covenant, we have been adopted out of slavery and are now sons: Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. So then, it seems that God has transitioned leadership styles. Now that we are mature, He wants us to think about everything. We have principles now: Love God, love your neighbor, make disciples of all nations... etc. But how? That is left up to us.

Do we eat meat or abstain (1Cr 8:8)? Do we quote the Bible (Act 18:28) or do we translate the Gospel into the pagan vernacular (Act 17)? Do we preach or do we teach? What is God's will for my life? It's up to us. We no longer have the convenience of direct orders.

I The great command is what? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matt 22:37) Right? What about "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deu 6:5)?

My speculation is this. The word for "heart" in the Hebrew ("lebab") is very vague and could also be interpreted mind. Perhaps Christ is re-interpreting or re-translating this in light of the New Covenant, with a greater focus on the Mind and on glorifying God with our thoughts and mental effort than there had been in the past, where strength or might was the focus.

I've started looking at the original texts in this, so it may simply be a translational issue (hence why this is speculative). However, it seems on the first glance at the LXX that Jesus does actually say something different even than what was said in Deuteronomy. The word "dianoa" (thoughts, mind, thinking) is not present in the LXX text (at least in the one hosted by, though may be a perfectly legitimate translation of the word "lebab."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Medical School... Thus far

I fully intend to write about cows after the comment on my previous post, but need to make sure, for practical reasons, I write this first.

So I interviewed at Yale and UC Irvine on Friday and Monday and here are my thoughts on the two schools and some in general.

Firstly, the campus is gorgeous. The faculty seems extremely supportive of the students, with a large amount of involvement in the programs. The anatomy and the facilities looked really good (negative airflow under the cadavers, new covers, lecture halls were cool). The thing that stood out was the level of maturity they treated the students. The Yale System essentially means their students are free to study as they like. All the lectures are recorded and posted online. They don't have exams (or they have 2 exams per semester and one is optional; the other you take online independently from wherever you like). If you don't get enough points on the one exam, you talk to the professor about why and take it again. The grading is directly pass/no pass for the first two years, and the students say it make for a very collaborative environment.

The students seem brilliant. They were really impressive. Student research is incredible. They've required their students do research since forever ago. They have a wide variety of research projects in a wide variety of fields (including international health, work with TB, etc.).

They have a really international focus, with many students choosing to go abroad over the summer. They have grants that can be applied to that pay for everything. They even said that sometime international medicine and techniques from other countries are taught. 20% of the class are international students. The doctors there do lots of work abroad; the chair of the OB/GYN department goes to Jamaica annually to run a week of a birthing clinic. The guy who interviewed me knew Paul Farmer from college.

By way of service, there are student run clinics and a poor community that the students do reach out to in New Haven. Also, many of the people I talked to before the interview were very interested in service. One of them came from Africa to Yale. Another was a Christian who had done intense medical missions throughout her college career.

The food looked amazing. They had mini roach coaches with every kind of food you could imagine (tacos, asian soups, pastrami). Also, you could eat in any of the 46 dining halls on campus.

New Haven was very cold. I know I'll be inside almost all of my life, but still.

US News put Yale's research at 10th, their primary care unranked, their business school at 14, but with nonprofits, #1.

The thing that seems to make UCI unique is community. This kept coming up again and again. They spend time together, they party together, they play sports together. They really seem to get along and trust each other. Especially within PRIME, the classes are only 12 people, but they really bond on a 5-week trip to Mexico. The student body seemed very laid back. They were stressed about their test, but even still, half a dozen came out to have dinner with applicants the night before.

The PRIME-LC program really impressed me. They actually work with Paul Farmer's PIH in Chiapas. Their leader, Dr. Vega has a very exciting vision and the leadership of the organization that makes it a reality. He is a man I would like to follow.

Community service seems to be a big thing at Irvine. The students have just pushed to open their free clinic; it will be less than a year old when I start. They have a chapter of Flying Samaritans who work in Mexico, and LMSA which does counseling for high schoolers. The students have worked in the Palestine studying the impact of the conflict on the health of the refugees, in Chiapas studying promotor model, and in Chiapas deploying better stoves (for indoor air pollution). They do seem to have a very international focus.

I'm starting not to see differences in the medical schools themselves. They have pass, no pass, honors grading but say its not competitive. They claim they are more laid back than other medical schools, and have competitive IM sports, so it seems enough time to practice to win Basketball. They seem very social and have the time to be thus. They are also very politically active in supporting universal healthcare and "equality" (more Mexicans) in medical education.

The quality of applicants were rather lower than at Yale (not surprisingly). The kinds of schools that people went to, the things that they had accomplished were much less. Nevertheless, they were much more conversational than the Yale applicants. Perhaps because the faculty was better at encouraging it.

The facilities seem to be older. The only new one is a new simulation center that has three dummies to poke and prod. The faculty (besides PRIME) did not seem especially supportive. The administration is amazingly flexible like in other medical schools. The school has a mediocre external reputation (50 in research, 41 in primary care, 53 in business).

Last night, I was high on UCI. Today, after going over my notes about Yale, I think that would be my choice if I had to decide right now. I was talking with a friend and realized that the service work in Medical school is only a shadow. I should get as well equipped as I can through medical school; the purpose is training. Service is an element, but I'll be doing plenty of service the next 50 years of my life. I can stand to be better trained. The connections I'd make in PRIME-LC would be better if I knew I'd be working in Latino health care in California. I do not know that. It's certainly a possibility, but it is less than likely. Yale's connections would be more general. They have a higher percentage of students who have done community service, and those doctors will have far more power in the world than UCI's will, both at home and abroad.

UCSF was quite underwhelming to be honest. Nobody I met really cared about service. Everyone was doing research. They were happy, had no grades and had a great education like everyone else. Their students were smart, but the applicants were the most asleep that I've yet seen. I was not impressed by UCSF.

Vanderbilt deserves another look. I had nothing to compare to when I went there. Their faculty have a huge commitment to serving abroad (I'm still on the email list). Their rankings are good (top 20 in research), with a very high number of students with experience abroad. The applicants were awake and the students were happy. Maybe I'm favoring Yale simply because it is fresher in my mind; Vanderbilt seems better regarding international service, though lacking in rankings and business school.

I think Yale's strength of students/applicants, international work, and rankings make it a better choice than any other medical school I've been to. UCI is more exciting because it'd be easier, closer to home and more able to work in Mexico, but frankly would not equip me as well as the others. UCSF was asleep. I should go back over my notes on Vanderbilt, but right now feel Yale is better.

The leader board:
1. Yale
2. UCI
3. Vanderbilt