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Being John Glaser 3/3/09

March 2, 2009 News 24 Comments

A couple of decades ago, public health officials noted an increasing and alarming phenomenon. Smart people who had spent a lot of time with stupid people were turning stupid. Permanently. This was seen as a significant problem.

Investigation revealed that stupid people emit a small, lightweight particle that travels in irregular motions like a fly buzzing around a room. These particles were called bozons (hence the origin of the word bozo to describe stupid people). These particles penetrated the skulls of smart people, turning them stupid.



Sometimes a smart person knows that they are in the presence of a stupid person and hence is at risk. Other times a smart person may not know that a person is stupid (e.g., standing next to a person on a subway) and does not know that their IQ is plummeting with each second.

To protect intelligent people, a bozon detector was developed. This detector provides an audible alarm if someone is standing next to a stupid person. The alarm sound indicates the density of the bozons being emitted. Early versions of the detector were cumbersome, requiring the placement of the detector paddle on the forehead of the suspected stupid person.


Early Bozon Detector, circa 1982

More recent versions of detectors have been developed that can be installed as a software a plug-in for cell phones. This enables one to discreetly sweep the room to detect bozons. Currently plug-ins can detect a bozo at 100 feet.

There are situations in which a smart person has no choice but to spend hours of time in the presence of stupid people. This situation can regularly occur in management meetings.

To protect smart people, the bozon deflector was developed. These deflectors shield a smart person’s skull and absorb bozons. Early deflectors were not stylish and led to difficult conversations, i.e. “Why are you wearing that helmet?” Answer: "To ensure that you don’t make me as stupid as you are."


Early Bozon Deflector, circa 1983

More recent versions are less obtrusive and provide a protective electromagnetic shield around the head. You can see a modern deflector below.


For many people, the damage has been done. I am one of them. Years of having been exposed to stupid people have left me with a diminished capacity to remember names, location of car keys, and the reason I called a meeting.

However, young or old, it is not too late to protect yourself. You owe it yourself, your family, your organization, and this industry.


John Glaser is vice president and CIO at Partners HealthCare System. He describes himself as an "irregular regular contributor" to HIStalk.

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Currently there are "24 comments" on this Article:

  1. John, you’ve forgotten (not surprisingly!) that “stupidity” increases with age. I wish we could blame that on exposure to stupid people but I’m afraid we must accept that our capacity to process and store information is diminished as we get older. Sure, too many management meetings escalate the problem. But youthful frivolities (inhaled and otherwise) or middle-age foibles (mostly in liquid form) contribute as well. Brain cells simply die. If you’re not grooming your replacement, who will ensure that the healthcare system is ready to handle the impending onslaught of drooling, retired HIT professionals??

  2. I”ve always thought that it was just my technology getting old and too much imformation in my computer (brain) and I’ve stored much of my information in ROM. It’s not that I can’t remember, ROM access takes more time. I’m beginning to access my ROM slower and slower. Sometimes it’ll be hours or even days and all to the sudden I’ll shout out – “Fred, Fred was his name” – to which the people around me simply get a quizical look.

  3. You must not know John Glaser or have read any of his books. I have been waiting for this type of post for some time now! Thanks for the laugh John!

  4. John,

    What should I do if the Bozons have stupidified the entire executive team on the cusp of a multimillion dollar ERP and Clinical Transformation project?

    Make 3 envelopes?

  5. Apparently another side-effect to exposure is the compulsion to write a meaningless blog? I’ll get my laughs from Letterman, thanks. HISTalk would be better served sticking with important industry news and issues.

  6. Evidently, some here have a far different “standard” of humor.

    John Glaser might want to consider hiding the “…vice president and CIO at Partners” when he writes these pieces. It all seems a little embarrassing to me, and a waste of time, too.

  7. Lots of bozons flowing around here. Since when is compartmentalizing a sign of intelligence? “I’ll get my laughs on Letterman…” and HIStalk must remain a serious industry site. Phooey. Low bozo-emitting brains get the big picture and ejoy the integrated; most don’t need a designated comedian with “applause” and “laugh” signs to tell them when it’s OK to enjoy a chuckle.

  8. And one of the earliest compounds invented to attack the Bozon virus was called bozoff and is in very short supply

  9. It’s only Tuesday and I’ve just finished my second 14-hour day this week. And then I read this. And I realized nine of the hours today was me with Bozos. Thank you, John. You made my unbearable day a little brighter at the end.

  10. In this economy, this is what the doctor should prescribe; a real good laugh. I disagree, Letterman has never made me laugh this hard. I try my best not to be a Bozon emitter, but shouldn’t we let known Bozon emitters in on this? Does anyone know
    Rush Limbaugh’s e-mail?

  11. I have no problem with humor but this was like a bad SNL skit – original premise wasn’t that funny to begin with and it went on too long.

  12. I am *pretty sure* that the “modern deflector” pictured above is actually a gathering-antenna and is used to concentrate bozons in wearer.

  13. As my grandmother used to say, “T’aint funny, McGee!” Stick to your day job ad leave the comedy writing to the professionals. I take precious time out of my day to visit these sites in the hope of gaining some knowledge that will help me run a better hospital and provide quality patient care. This wastes my time. If I want comedy, I’ll go to a comedy club. This entry was more tragic, anyway. The bad SNL-skit noter was right on!

  14. Brilliant in so many ways. I love how this appears above the announcements for the new Health Czar and HHS post. Need I say anymore.

    — No, but I will.

    For those of you complaining that it wasted your time, please help me understand how you found the time to write a comment (my experience on this site has shown me that leaving comments are not very intuitive, and you need to click and search a bit to do so). Ah… and you argue that you made the time because you have something to say…hmmm. Exactly. Well, John had something to say, and he had the ####’s to sign his name to it.
    Wow. What sort of over scripted life do you all lead? If I am not mistaken, I think John is undisputed leader of this space, and is sought out for his wisdom and leadership on all sides of the healthcare and academic continuums. He is so successful because of his ability to step aside and see the brilliance in the simple, find the humor in the trivial and know when and how to balance it all. Let me ask, in your early advanced education days, did you learn more from the scripted syllabus that was simply designed to educate you on the objectives of the course as defined in the description, or that instructor who knew how to infuse something completely foreign from the topic at hand that stimulated your mind in ways you couldn’t imagine. If you are simply logging on to “steal” knowledge from others, knowledge that came from experience, trial and error, and humor, than don’t come back.
    Well, “as my grandmother used to say”…1) “You learn from everyone, my dear. You will certainly learn more of what not-to-do than of what to do, but every experience is a learning one”….and 2)”You can’t change people, period”. With that as my platform, I will say that John reminded me of my grandmothers wisdom, made me smile when I needed one, and inspired me to not be defeated by all of these less than adequate individuals in this crowded industry who just care about the profit for tomorrow, not the learning’s of today.

  15. John, there is a very unusual and difficult process that can reverse the flow of bozons from one person to another and in fact neutralize the bozons in both the “stupid person” and the “smart person” who initiates the process. Ironically, it is rarely valued and even more rarely rewarded in academic medical centers such as yours.

    It is called “teaching”. Try it the next time you’re around one of those “stupid people” of whom you speak.

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