"I don't ask why patients lie, I just assume they all do"


The quote is from everyone’s favorite cantankerous physician, Dr. House.

I thought about it today when reading that, in the next few days, Hugo Chávez will return to Cuba for his third round of chemotherapy.

Chávez has told us he is “cancer-free.” He claims his cancer “did not metasthasize.” Just last Friday, he said all his tests had come back “normal.”

So, is he really cancer-free? Is this round of chemo just to eliminate any traces of cancer?

Or is he lying? Is he sicker than he claims to be?


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  1. First off, Chavez is not telling the truth. Chavez knows about medicine just about as much as Navarro knows about economy. So even if he tried to tell the truth about his condition, it’s more than likely he’d end up saying something that only barely resembles reality.

    Having said that, you cannot read anything into the fact that he’s still on chemo. Medical treatments are supposed to be fairly strict, specially regarding the Big C. The treatment itself is determined with the initial diagnosis, and it won’t stop simply because the patient says he feels peachy today. So the chemo will continue in a predetermined pattern regardless of whether or not they find anything on his body.

    • It’s one thing to not know about medicine, it’s quite another to lie. But you’re right, he might just be mouthing off, being his ignorant self. Wouldn’t be the first time.

      This is an important topic, something we have to be able to discuss as a nation. Chavistas have so far tried to make this into a taboo topic, but that’s not right.

      • Actually, they try to disparage and dismiss demands of information about matters of public concern as morbid curiosity, at best. As an attempt to create “zozobra” is a close second.

        Public sphere = government sphere = Chavez’s definition of same.

        Only partially OT, where does 6° Poder fit in. I haven´t seen the paper but regardless of what was published, does this qualify as a civil libel suit or public crime of “desacato a la autoridad”? Methinks that not only public/government/Chavez distinctions have been erased but also private and “public” (whatever that means at a given moment). And that smacks of totalitariianism, not just a garden variety of authoritarianism..

  2. The benefits obtained from being sick: sympathy, increased forgiveness, compassion, attention, willingness to give energy to the sick one, donations, etc. etc.

    Benefits of being sick but playing it down so as not to be an obvious burden:

    -appearing strong and mature, appearing to care more for others than for oneself,looking larger than life and able to over come anything, invincible etc.etc.

  3. I think we presume that he is either lying or deceiving himself. Otherwise, he could just release his medical file to stop all speculation. But announcing he is well shouldn’t cut it.

    Jeff House (no relation)

    • It could be all three. Remember it’s Venezuela.
      Hugo could be lying and deceiving himself and at the same time receiving false information from his entourage. And we are not talking about the physicians, who could also be wrong.

    • Quadaffi-should be “offed” by tomorrow night.
      Maybe, someone close to him will do it.
      Or, he will commit suicide.
      I think the rebels will -Kill-not capture.

  4. The truth about Chavez’s health is coming to us through several three filters:

    1. The first one is the filter applied by the doctors in what they tell Chavez. I can think of any number of reasons why the doctors might fudge the truth or even lie. And in any case, they are certainly simplifying their explanations in their presentation to Chavez.

    2. The second filter is the one between what the doctors actually say and what Chavez perceives, or chooses to hear. Chavez’s capacity for self-deception should not be underestimated.

    3. Then we have the filter between what Chavez actually knows (or thinks he knows) and the version he chooses to tell the public.

    By the time this information has passed through this series of filters, we should not be surprised if what we are told departs significantly from the real truth.

    So, what is the real truth? I do know that the reports by Chavez don’t sound like any sort of medical language I know. He misuses many of the medical terms, and doesn’t provide any hard data. I would think that if the prognosis were positive, he would be trotting out the doctors to tell us about it, and showing us the MRI’s. Since he is not, I tend to suspect that the prognosis is not positive at all. But that is just a guess.

  5. Who knows. Without access to some hard data, this is all guess work on the wording used by a man who “lies” and aggrandizes himself as a matter of course, whatever his health. His physicians could be obfuscating some of the truth, but they are not the problem here.

    Worse yet with this individual: “Medina Angarita no sabia como mentir, CAP no sabia como decir la verdad, Chavez no sabe cual es la diferencia.”

    • How come he still has eyebrows and eyelashes? Is he really getting chemo?
      The line between fact and fiction is so freaking blurry in Venezuela!

      • If the underlying point in your observation is that chavez doesn’t *look* the part, it may be partly for medical reasons, but I think a great part of his look has to do with his new strategy to be a sort of messiah: spiritual poses, associations with various religious groups, returning from death. In cult format, people are worked until tired, kept from food and water until hungry and thirsty, and being told of the coming of the leader throughout the day, with promises that all will be well when he comes. Then at the end of the day, when everyone is sat waiting for food, the leader comes out in impeccable (usually white) clothes at the same time as the food the drinks, and the choirs begin to sing, and all is joy, love, and giving. And boy people fall for it…

  6. I think its a case of putting yourself in his shoes:
    1. Imagine he has been told without a doubt that he has 6-12 months left to live. What would then be his dominant strategy? (a) Lie about his condition as he puts in place some mechanism to facilitate the continuation of his robolution (b) Tell the truth, then if he told the truth what would ensue (1) Immediate infighting within Chavista circles for succession, etc (2) sympathy (does he really need it? he has the cash and the guns -hello!…..basically in a nutshell I just think that wether he is: (a) fully recovered (b) on the way to recovery (c) seriously ill (d) on his deathbed, the dominant strategy is to say/pretend that all is OK, until the very end. Hence why that is all we are going to be hearing from him, until the day (or two weeks later) he finally sods off to join Mao, Che and Zamora wherever they maybe…

    • Touché! You almost got me going way back to the days when I would model the distinct option scenarios, using metagame analysis like Nigel Howard´s CONAN (long buried with a defunct HD — or was it a floppy?). Time allowing, I´ll play around with simple 2×2 matrices but agree a priori that lying is Chavez´s dominant strategy, regardless of diagnosis. And cannot help but recall the old adage: when you come to ask, “Hey, is this Chicken”, you´ve already lost.


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