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All things in moderation and severity

The New York Times today published a Page One story about Kenny Stabler, the great quarterback of the Oakland Raiders who died last year. It was disclosed this week that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease provoked by repeated blows to the head. Stabler died of colon cancer, but the results of an autopsy were just released.

The story quoted a doctor who described Stabler’s affliction thusly:

“He had moderately severe disease …Pretty classic. It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain.”

I do not know which planet this doctor was from, but it is not possible on this Earth to have a malady that is “moderately severe.” We are not part of a galaxy that mixes moderation with severity. In this universe, the terms are mutually exclusive. One could even say they were contradictory.

Perhaps the explanation is this is simply medical parlance, and there are terms such as “benignly severe” or even “severely moderate” that have meaning for physicians. If so, God help us.

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