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Letter: Doctors, bankers — they all spout gobbledegook

As I read Janan Ganesh’s piece “A slap in the face for psychobabble” (Opinion, Life & Arts, April 9), I was probably, like many readers of the FT, racking my brains to pinpoint exactly where, and how much of this gobbledegook I have heard in, say, the last week.

In the bank, in the surgery, I was the fall guy for some unintelligible guff, firstly, about a finance product and secondly — in the surgery — a full minute’s worth of “advice” about good and bad foods. I admit some of it was helpful but the long monologue on the science was, to my mind, just bonkers.

And what about Ganesh’s list of the vital elements that make up this psychobabble? Yes, that element of wacky profundity was there: I was told by the doctor I was “important”.

But the “humble” bit was missing. And this is where I think Ganesh is wrong. Those who talk in this way, far from being humble, want to dominate, want to show you who’s boss. The doctor, whose diagnosis is not quite there, had to bluster. The banker who doesn’t quite understand the product he’s flogging. Ganesh’s most impressive point is his comment about the taciturn being the more emotionally intelligent. That’s certainly my experience over 70 years or so.

Alastair Conan
London CR5, UK

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