Taking a knee against police brutality and racial inequality
I recently read Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project, a book about the friendship and work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. And ever since I have been thinking about one idea of Tversky’s as reported by Lewis:
“The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”
Now seeking just a touch of underemployment. Let me say at this point that I know, I am completely aware of the fact that I have utterly failed at this endeavor so far. Utter. And. Complete. Failure.
Just to paint a picture of my utter failure at injecting a touch of underemployment into my life, I am currently teaching twice a day, every day. Yup. Certifiable. Mornings and Monday and Wednesday afternoons, I commune with 85 students from the Pritzker Medical School. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I lecture in our newly restructured introduction to the Fundamentals of Neuroscience for 80-90 UChicago undergraduates interested in the greatest subject in the world. You would think that any normal person would head home a bit early on Friday after this week, but nooooo. Friday afternoon (yup, eye roll) is when we have a laboratory section for the undergraduates.
This past Wednesday, I was happily discussing cranial nerves with the medical students. [This is one of the problems with losing jobs. I really enjoy most of what I do. And the bits I don’t enjoy, no one wants to release me from.] When I finished, I saw that my twitter pals were tweeting with the hashtag #ScientistsTakeAKnee. Having just been blown away by Nick Wright’s righteous video – yes, it is the best way to spend 5 minutes of your time today (Thanks Robin!) – and 538’s brutal analysis that there is no logical reason for Colin Kaepernick to not have been hired by an NFL team (Yes, I am talking to you, Miami! You took Chicago’s no-good-and-retired-anti-vaccine-campaigner-discard Jay Cutler over CK? You’d rather have kids get deadly childhood diseases than recognize that too many black men are getting killed by police officers?), I thought, “I want in” on this #ScientistsTakeAKnee thing.
As should be clear by now, at this point in time, I spend more time with the medical students than I do with anyone else, including my spouse. And Pritzker students are scientists, many of them already very accomplished and others well on their way, as well as physicians-in-training. So I sent the class an email:
I am proud and pleased that we did this. We took a stand in our little way, in a way that was within our capacity. Thank you to Robin Betts-Kellogg for keeping me informed, to @excitableape @NickyPenttila @sheacshl for alerting me to the #ScientistsTakeAKnee trend, to many MS2s and several MS1s for joining in, to my friend and colleague Dr Monica Vela for all you do, and to our photographer HE.
While I have you on the line, so to speak, I want to announce and give links to two new resources:
- Lectures on Medical Neurobiology are available for free on UChicago’s YouTube channel. This is not a course per se but you are free to use the lectures to learn as you like. As of today (9/29/17 or 29/9/17 to everyone outside of the U.S.), most are available. A few more are coming.
- BrainBuddiesPodcast is out and available. This is a series of chats between my friend (and former MOOC student) Aaron Freeman and me. Stay tuned for a rocking new BBP logo and many more episodes as our neuro’ fancy is so moved.
Categories: The brain in the news