Plastic Surgeons

I wrote a post earlier today in which I referenced plastic surgeons. And then I began to wonder why they are called “plastic surgeons” as opposed to “cosmetic surgeons,” “reconstructive surgeons,” or “miracle workers.”

My first thought was that the “plastic” in plastic surgery takes its name from the use of silicone and other man-made materials (i.e., plastic) to achieve specific cosmetic or reconstructive goals. That sounded plausible to me, but I decided that, rather than assuming my intuitive conclusion was accurate, I’d do some research.

So I Googled it. And I learned that I was wrong. Well, not entirety wrong, but not entirely right, either.

“Plastic,” in the context of plastic surgery, is derived from the Greek word “plastikos,” which means to mold, or to have the ability to mold. Just as synthetic plastic materials can be molded into different shapes, plastic surgery molds, or reshapes different parts of the body.

So, the “plastic” in plastic surgery doesn’t mean that a synthetic substance (like plastic) is necessarily used, but that the surgeons are changing the shape of, or molding, the part of the body they are working on.


I think the name plastic surgeon is misleading. I think what plastic surgery should be all about is opening up those small items that you purchase that are encased in a hard plastic clamshell-like packaging.

It’s pretty close to impossible to get into those things without using a box cutter or an extra sharp pair of scissors. And more often than not, I end up cutting myself on some piece of plastic that sprung loose during the operation to surgically remove the item from its hard plastic shell.

So I Googled how to open those clamshell packages without injuring myself, and here’s what I found:

“Squeeze your can opener into the side or edge, and it opens easily without cutting yourself with scissors, knives, or the sharp sides of plastic packages. This is the easiest way to open plastic packages or clamshell packaging.”

With this knowledge, I now declare myself to be a plastic surgeon.

The Death of Critical Thinking


Everyone thinks, right? It’s what we do. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. Yet, it seems more and more these days that people, rather than exercising critical thinking, are okay with allowing their thinking to be biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced.

So what is critical thinking? Well, it’s not negative thinking. It’s not being argumentative. It’s not being blindly critical of someone or something. Critical thinking is the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. It involves the objective evaluation of data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings.

Seems simple enough. Don’t take things at face value. Gather the relevant information, objectively evaluate the facts, and come to a well-reasoned conclusion. Easy-peasy.

Apparently it’s not so easy-peasy. Our educational system seems to be more intent on indoctrination than on teaching students to think critically. As a result, a large numbers of Americans are uncritically consuming “fake news,” falling for conspiracy theories, and believing all kinds of crazy, baseless assertions about their fellow citizens.

America now has a reality TV star and questionably successful real estate mogul in the Oval Office. This man has a tendency to tweet to all the world his immediate, uncritical reactions to whatever he hears or sees. He has neither the interest nor the patience to gain any depth of understanding regarding those areas for which he, in his role as president, is responsible for.

This ill-informed man was able to persuade enough gullible Americans, who lack sufficient critical thinking skills, that he has all the answers. Without the ability to distinguish fake news from real news or to understand the basic workings of their own government, they fell hook, line, and sinker for his claims that he alone knew better than the generals or than anyone else how to “make America great again.”

And even with ample evidence that our president lacks the temperament, the emotional skills, and the intellectual competence to master the role into which he was elected, there are still those who look at him uncritically and believe him to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

We are witnessing the death of critical thinking in America.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “critical.”

The Mole People


“Let’s go get Grandpa,” Burt said. “He knows everything!” The two boys ran back to the clearing where their grandfather was sitting on a bench waiting for them.

Nearly out of breath, they ran up to him. “Grandpa, you’ve got to come see what we found,” Ernie said. They each grabbed a hand and led him back to what had gotten them so excited.

“Ernie says that it’s man-made,” Burt said, “but I think it’s natural. Who’s right?”

The old man examined the large hole in the rock formation. “Neither of you,” he said. “This was made by the mole people.”

“The what?” said Ernie.

“Who are the mole people?” Burt asked.

Their grandfather smiled. “The mole people inhabited the earth long before humans existed,” he said. “They came from the very depths of the earth and, after many millennia, managed to dig and claw their way to the earth’s surface.”

“Wow,” both boys said in unison.

“But the brightness of the sun was too much for their very large and very sensitive eyes, so they carved out caves all across the landscape,” he continued. “They lived in these caves and rarely came out except at night, which is when they scavenged for food. They also created tunnels like this one so that they could more easily get from one place to another.”

“What happened to the mole people, Grandpa?” Ernie asked.

“Humans came along and quite a few of them became plastic surgeons.”

“I don’t get it, Grandpa,” Burt said. “What do plastic surgeons have to do with what happened to the mole people?”

Grandpa laughed. “The plastic surgeons removed all their moles.”

Burt groaned. Ernie said, “That’s not funny, Grandpa.”

Written for this week’s Thursday #writephoto prompt from Sue Vincent.