More Insights into Ancient Radiology Culture

November 30, 2012

Why would radiologists, who appear to have been a fairly intelligent, industrious lot, elaborate such a roster of gods to hold dominion over them?

Previously we have described some of the impressive artifacts left behind by the self-entitled “radiologists” of antiquity, and what their intended uses might have been. To reiterate, much of our analysis is constrained by the paucity of written records, as well as our inability to simulate the power source they used in their day (“electricity,” they called it). 

Fortunately, modern archaeologists are confident in their ability to read between the lines and paint elaborate pictures as to how these primitives lived - to the point where dissenting opinion may be safely dismissed and/or mocked in all of the respectable peer-reviewed journals.

In today’s examination, we focus on the considerable pantheon of deities observed by the radiological people. In surviving writings, these entities’ importance is underscored by the usage of all-capital letters in their names. Further, unlike much of the rest of the language of the day, the deities’ names are rarely easily pronounced according to established phonetics. This was likely a mark of respect or fear of these entities; inscription or utterance of their full names may have been thought blasphemous.

The deities can be grouped into three general categories. The largest of these was regarded as the most powerful, issuing edicts to the radiologists as to how they must conduct their affairs. Some of the more often-mentioned entities in this group are CMS, FDA, HHS, and NIH. Other members of ancient society seem to have had differing views of these deities, sometimes regarding them as protectors of their well-being and establishers of law and order. By contrast, in their dealings with radiologists, these entities were typically punitive or even predatory.

The next group of deities was considered more benevolent, protecting the radiologists or at least treating them with more gentle guidance. Some of the more prominent were ACR, RSNA, and ARRS. There are some accounts of these entities contending against their more powerful counterparts mentioned above. Almost always, the confrontations ended in stalemate or slight gains by the more powerful predatory entities. Inexplicably, these were often described as victories for the lesser deities and/or the radiologists they championed.

The third group’s role is more difficult to define. While it occasionally interacts with the other groups, it does not appear to engage in power-struggles with them. Rather, it seems to be credited with empowering the radiologists, and these deities’ names are almost invariably inscribed on artifacts devoted to them: GE, Toshiba, Siemens, etc. Notably, most of these entities’ names are not fully capitalized and can be phonetically pronounced; this implies a lower level of respect/fear than for the other deities mentioned above. Their motivations were not entirely benevolent; in exchange for their gifts, accounts indicate that the radiologists became deeply indebted or otherwise beholden for long periods of time.

Why would the radiologists, who appear to have been a fairly intelligent, industrious lot, elaborate such a roster of gods to hold dominion over them? It may be that, earlier in the radiologists’ history, they had experienced great calamity, and felt the need to create a pantheon to protect them from future harm or at least to serve as scapegoats for future untoward events.

To date, however, most accounts of misfortune for the ancient radiologists occur subsequent to the establishment of their pantheon, rather than before it. One might expect such developments to result in the radiologists abandoning their unkind gods, rather than proceeding to invent even more. Perhaps they simply thought themselves unworthy or incapable of controlling their own destinies.