Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Acronyms 01: WIBOTT (pron. why-bott)

For years, I used the term "pre-med" as shorthand to describe someone with no intellectual curiosity whatsoever, someone who only ever wanted to get the job done and never cared about getting right. Of course, sometimes getting it done is more important. And of course number 2, sometimes focusing on getting it right means it never gets done, which can be a disaster. But the best people are those who instinctively make a judgment about where on the 'done/done right' continuum each task ought to be and then get it done with the appropriate amount of attention to getting it right.

Sometimes I would refer to someone with the "get it done and be done with it" mentality as an "inbox-to-outbox" type. This was in honor of a fellow associate at a law firm, who, according to another associate, was well-regarded by the partnership because ne moved things from nis inbox to nis outbox promptly and reliably. Quality, or its lack, my informant added, was of little importance to our employers. But "inbox-to-outbox" is cumbersome, and its meaning may not be patently obvious.

The term "pre-med" gave me pause, too, because I know quite a few post-pre-meds (that is, practicing medical doctors) who do try to get it right whenever possible, people whose intellectual curiosity and
integrity are of the best. And I realized they could rightly be insulted at my prejudiced and insulting view of pre-meds, who are definitely not created equal when it comes to mental outlook.

A few months ago I pondered this problem again because I encountered some non-pre-meds who were inbox-to-outbox types. A solution popped into mind. I could call them by the acronym WIBOTT (pronounced why-bott), for "Will It Be On The Test," an often-heard question from pre-meds in, say, their required physics course. The acronym, I hope, is not only fairer than "pre-med" but is also more self-explanatory, referring directly to the attitude of WIBOTTs toward new information and their lack of eagerness to indulge in that pastime known as thinking.

This is not my first acronym. Later in this series I will write about some others I have coined over the years. I am starting with WIBOTT only because it has received such a good response. I expect that some to whom I have mentioned it, non-WIBOTTs of course, are already spreading the word (literally).

[rev 1. 4/28/11. rev. 2 9/10/11.]

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