“It’s not rocket science” and “It’s not brain surgery”
- The phrases “It’s not rocket science” and “It’s not brain surgery” are commonly and interchangeably used for tasks or concepts that are easy
- Using such phrases suggests that both specialties are put on a pedestal of being difficult or requiring exceptional cognitive abilities
- Whether they are appropriate phrases and, if so, which of the two is more suitable have not been subject to scientific scrutiny
- Aerospace engineers and neurosurgeons showed no difference in four of six validated cognitive domains; neurosurgeons showed better semantic problem solving abilities, whereas aerospace engineers showed better mental manipulation and attention abilities
- Most of the domain scores for both groups were within the range of those in the general population
- Both specialties might therefore be unnecessarily placed on a pedestal, and other phrases such as “It’s a walk in the park” might be more appropriate
In situations that do not require rapid problem solving, it might be more correct to use the phrase “It’s not brain surgery.” It is possible that both neurosurgeons and aerospace engineers are unnecessarily placed on a pedestal and that “It’s a walk in the park” or another phrase unrelated to careers might be more appropriate.
Other specialties might deserve to be on that pedestal, and future work should aim to determine the most deserving profession.
A great conclusion from BMJ (Christmas 2021: What if . . .?)
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