If you didn’t catch last night’s episode of House, “Top Secret”, you should. It proves why House is the most educational show on TV. In an era when shows like Medium and Supernatural and Psychic Detectives are big hits, what a relief to have a show that sticks to pure rationality and reason for solutions to problems.
Last night’s show was interesting because House had a dream about a marine, who he’d never seen before, and who suddenly turned up as his patient the next day. And yet House stuck to his guns, did not leap toward supernatural explanations, and in addition to figuring out what was wrong with his patient, he also figured out how he could have had a dream about a patient before he met the patient. And it was all through reason.
I’m skeptical about some of the medicine on House. Granted, I don’t know enough about medicine to be sure, but I suspect like in any TV show, things are dumbed down, glazed over, and literary license is used. Setting that aside, the main focus of the show is not on the medical mysteries but on the methods used to solve them. Deduction, induction, reasoning, ruling out, ruling in, these are the way problems get solved, not by a crystal ball, lines in the palm of your hand, or Tarot cards.
Last night’s episode reminded me of one of my favorite Isaac Asimov Black Widower mysteries, “The Obvious Factor”. A mystery is presented at the gathering whereby it seems totally and completely impossible that there is any rational explanation. The guest tells a story and has his hosts completely perplexed. But not Henry the waiter. Henry points out that there is one obvious factor that has been overlooked by everyone else: that the guest is lying. And that, in fact, was the case. The guest made up the impossible events, and after ruling everything else out, the only rational explanation left was that he was lying. How many people would have liked to believe that the events described in the story could only be explained by supernatural forces, when an obvious factor still remained?
Gregory House may be an arrogant ass and have the bedside manner of foley catheter. But he’s one of my heroes because he doesn’t give into flim flam and nonsense. He keeps looking for rational explanations even when everyone else has given up.