Death of the medical riddle and why Google is responsible

Stanford’s Abraham Verghese challenges readers to solve his medical riddle, without using Google.

These exercises, when thought through, offer the student the opportunity to “formulate hypotheses, go to the book, research and eliminate possibilities . . . and come to the answer,” and can be a valuable learning experience.

But with the dawn of Google, many arcane answers can simply be looked up, often at the expense of thinking through a problem.

So, as Dr. Verghese poignantly asks whether “Google killed the riddle,” try pondering his latest offering, without search engine assistance.

Can a medical condition really give someone the ability to hold their breath for twenty minutes? And no, a tracheostomy is not involved.


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