Tea Party Brain Surgeon Wants To Shave You

By Neuroskeptic | March 25, 2013 3:00 pm

I’m currently researching a piece on politics and neurosurgery, and I just came across this amusing snippet.

David McKalip MD is a brain surgeon from Florida. He attained 15 minutes of infamy in 2009 when he deemed a virulently racially insensitive Photoshop of Barack Obama to be “funny stuff” and emailed it to some Tea Party pals. McKalip was opposed to Obama’s then-planned healthcare reforms.

Well, four years later, and he’s still fighting The Man.

Here’s a letter McKalip sent to the Journal of Neurosurgery, in which he criticizes a paper that concluded that shaving the patients’ head before performing brain surgery provides no benefit:

…Sadly, all of this [opposition to shaving] is a result of continued government and corporate intrusion into the practice of medicine and our unwillingness, as a profession, to reject faulty assertions and substandard studies as a basis for interference in our profession—this as even more published studies are showing that compliance with such standards does not benefit patients in any way and that harm is likely.

As accountable care organizations, capitation, pay for performance, bundling, shared savings programs, value-based purchasing, and similar programs grow, doctors will be coerced to lower their standards and provide substandard care to serve the interests of politicians and corporations – often with their own colleagues supporting this agenda.

As a surgeon, I like shaving hair. I like having a naked scalp that gives me more options for an incision and better visualization for planning the surgery. I like removing hair quickly with cheap and new razors so that I can focus on the important parts of the case. I like to avoid slow removal of hair with an expensive electric clipper… In short, I like my razor. If my patients want a surgeon who doesn’t shave with a razor, there are others in the community who will satisfy that need.

It’s just like something out of Atlas Shrugged…!

ResearchBlogging.orgMcKalip D (2013). Letter to the editor: shaving. Journal of neurosurgery, 118 (3), 701-2 PMID: 23259824

  • http://profiles.google.com/rjvg50 Kirk Holden

    This genius has to fumble through a nest of tangled neurons but hair is just too much for him to figure out….

    • Buddy199

      “As a surgeon, I like shaving hair.… In short, I like my razor. If my patients want a surgeon who doesn’t shave with a razor, there are others in the community who will satisfy that need.”

  • DS

    Brain surgery isn’t rocket science. … But then neither is rocket science.

    “You can check your anatomy all you want, and even though there may be
    normal variation, when it comes right down to it, this far inside the
    head it all looks the same. No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never
    know what it might be attached to.”

    Buckaroo Banzai

  • http://jonathan-peterson.com/ Jonathan Peterson

    As a surgeon, I like drilling random holes. If my patients want a surgeon who uses the most scientifically efficacious procedures instead of random trepanning, there are others in the community who will satisfy that

  • http://www.thealders.net/blogs Doug Alder

    Tea Party Brain Surgeon? Now there’s an oxymoron for you

    • Buddy199

      Sort of like “Affordable Care Act” or “Shovel Ready Jobs”.

  • JonFrum

    You really have to bring down the level of your blog with this stuff? I think Tea Party bashing is already being done in sufficient frequency elsewhere that a blog featuring neurobiology really doesn’t need to get in on the act. Or are you just preening for your friends? Right wing hate envy? Come on – be bigger than this. I just found Discover blogs and I don’t want to deal with petty political dickishness here. If I wanted that – five times a day – I’d go to Slate. Find the high rode and try taking it – you’ll like it.

    • http://twitter.com/infinidiv infinidiv

      The high road would have been to believe in free speech, ignore an article you don’t like, and come back when the topic is relevant to your interests. The Tea Party sure makes use of that right.

      Btw, neuroskeptic has always addressed a wide range of topics, and I value that. Even if an article pops in from time to time that I am not interested in… 😉

      • http://twitter.com/TheFlex3 John Carlucci

        There’s free speech and then there’s utterly pointless, off topic speech. What’s next? Michelle Obama’s carrot salad recipe?

    • Alicia Smallwood

      Honestly? Did you just read the word “Tea Party” or did you actually read the whole article? There was absolutely no hate, even when talking about the Tea party! We find the things we are looking for. Way to represent your party with dignity!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531501552 John W. Boyd Jr

    After I got the bill from MY surgeon, it felt like being shave WITHOUT a razor, electric or otherwise.

  • xamublack

    This article is just junk. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with journalistic bias. I actually came here tonight from Popsci to get away from this but it appears there is no haven.

    • http://twitter.com/TheFlex3 John Carlucci

      Exactly. If I want sophomoric conservative bashing I’ll read DailyKos or watch MSDNC.

      • http://twitter.com/Neuro_Skeptic Neuroskeptic

        I wrote not one bashy word. I said he’s like an Ayn Rand character, which to him is no doubt high praise.

        • @nsmartinworld

          Only revealing your ignorance of Rand’s characters. (I’m not her fan, btw.)

    • Alicia Smallwood

      Honestly? Did you just read the word “Tea Party” or did you actually read the whole article?

  • @nsmartinworld

    Not even vaguely the message of Atlas Shrugged. Rand championed science and savaged racism.



No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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