The Uncertainty of Truth

An excerpt from The Uncertainty of Truth:

We live in a world where uncertainty has been eliminated. The publication of the Doctrine of Certitude meant that uncertainty was officially forbidden for the first time in history. The passage of this law rendered the phrases ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’m not sure’ and even ‘Huh …’ illegal and punishable by life imprisonment. Neoastrophysicists, using chaos theory, have modelled intergalactic maps that predict even the smallest particle of space dust’s coordinates within a half millimeter of its actual location. Cosmometeorologists have derived atmospheric models that predict a planet’s weather patterns with a five-sigma level of confidence. Even in the field of medicine, the uncertainty we once operated under has all but vanished. The latest validation from the Framingham group can predict your death within a month of your passing. And yet the human race cannot help but spit in the face of this certainty.

Let us use Mr Wigan as a case in point. He was given a certified Framingham score of 689.27. Simply put, Mr Wigan’s death had been verified with 99.99999% accuracy to occur at the age of 68 years from the restrictive lung disease known as astropneumoconiosis (or as the miners on Gamma colony jovially call it ‘kettle lung’). His predicted lifespan was actually 5 years beyond the average life expectancy of a standard Gamma Colonist (whose main occupation is the mining of the colony’s one natural resource Detroleum). Mr Wigan was aware of this certified, validated destiny and wanted nothing to do with it. As he lay in front of me on our trauma bay’s hover stretcher, Mr Wigan was trying incredibly hard to die 41 years before his scheduled date.

To read on, go to the free full-text online article published by Emergency Medicine Australasia as part of the Dispatches from the FOAM Frontier series.


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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