How Is Reciting Pi to 22,000 Numbers Like Reforming Medicare?
It isn’t. The former is a hat-trick recitation of known, memorizable numbers in sequence (albeit a very long sequence), with no practical purpose. The latter is an enduring health insurance program for the elderly, with budgetary problems and unknown solutions—other than more money.
But AMA President Ronald Davis believes that one should follow the other. In an appealing-sounding, but really illogical, statement made at the annual meeting of the AMA house of delegates, Davis claimed, “If a person with autism can recite Pi to more than 22,000 digits, we ought to be able to…figure out how to get off the [Medicare] hamster wheel.”* Cue: rousing applause accompanied by sprinkled thoughts of “huh?”
*On March 14, 2004, autistic savant Daniel Tammet recited Pi to 22,514 decimal places, breaking the European record. Davis’s “hamster wheel” refers to cyclic Medicare cuts in physician reimbursement for services.