Complexity and Ethics of Gene Editing

What does gene editing mean for society? How complex is the procedure? What is the likelihood that mistakes will be made in the process? What happens to discarded embryos?

Confronting Complexity

The book you are seeing on your screen may look like a normal book; it is not. It is a conversation in which you are a participant. The book does not offer pat answers to hard questions. In fact, it barely even gives definition to hard questions. Rather, this book presents that stage in which science is most challenging and, arguably, most interesting—the period of identifying just what the problems and issues are. That is why we solicit your help in writing this story—the story of extreme events in social systems.

The participants in this book-writing enterprise are independent thinkers who wish to understand the forces impinging on social systems and the systems’ often dramatic and extreme responses to those forces. Extreme events, the sudden and discontinuous response of social systems to these forces, are what we for shorthand term X-Events. X-events We imagine the reader to be a person who wants to intelligently manage his or her actions and behaviors in the midst of an X-event—in short, to manage an organization in chaos. And not only manage, but be a beneficiary of that event. Explicitly, we understand that there are no simple answers to social questions. But but there is at least a gestalt that can help an individual anticipate and manage X-events. The program outlined here is to build the gestalt by total immersion in the topic—by examining the issues from many perspectives.


The best way to understand what a neurotransmitter does is to see what happens when it is absent or over-present.

Ads and Myths About Quick Alzheimer Cures

Prevention, of course, is vital early in life. In my book SECRETS OF ETERNAL YOUTH, we study the newest information about brain plasticity. In 1995 it was discovered that our brains, contrary to previous beliefs, can grow new neurons all of our lives. The major factors that keep are brains young and even make them younger are diet, exercise, curiosity, learning and attitude. (Editor’s Note: SECRETS OF ETERNAL YOUTH will be available in the summer of 2016)

Goats, Cars, and Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine will change the way physicians diagnose. With every person able to map his or her own gene, the complication in personalized diagnosis will increase beyond normal human mental capabilities. How will physicians of the future cope? The solution to the problem may start with something as incongruous as goats, cars, and game shows.

A Tutorial on the Regulation of the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical market place is not entirely a free market. The extreme demand for lifesaving products can make standard economic assumptions inoperable. Therefore, regulatory mechanisms have emerged to protect patients and to provide patients access to affordable medications. There are three aspects of pharmaceutical operations in the U.S. that are regulated by the government:

Two Visions for Healthcare

Last week I attended the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York City. Over 200 healthcare leaders converged on Lincoln Center to discuss and forecast the future of healthcare in the U.S. The heady atmosphere of the conference will provide material for a number of blogs. In this blog I would like to focus on two different visions for the future that emerged in the conference. The first vision is an extension of our current trajectory in which space-age technology yields dramatic, but expensive, health outcomes. The second vision is one in which common-sense medicine produces low-cost very good health over a large segment of the population, but is not necessarily designed to accommodate specialized high-technology procedures.

How is healthcare different from a commodity?

“How is healthcare different from a commodity?” may be as enigmatic as Caroll’s riddle from Alice in Wonderland, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Lewis Carroll did not posit an answer to the riddle, but many people have suggested answers. My favorite may be, “Because neither one can ride a bicycle.” Because healthcare in the U.S. costs more than 17% of GDP and health outcomes lag behind other industrial countries, the answer to the healthcare question may need to be less frivolous than the answer to the raven question.

Information management that improves health outcomes and reduces costs

I would like to start this blog with a story about my college-age daughter. Like most college students, she likes pizza. Beth, because she is a modern child completely comfortable in the information age, orders her pizza over the internet. She can monitor the progress of her pizza online. She knows when the cheese has been applied and also the pepperoni. She knows when the pizza has been placed in the delivery car, and she knows, within a few seconds, when the deliveryman will knock on our door. She also knows the deliveryman’s name.

US Healthcare as a Complex System

Healthcare in the U.S. is complicated. There are dozens of components: hospitals, hospices, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, home care, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, the Food and Drug Administration, the Patent Office, specialized physicians, general physicians, physicians assistants, nurses, medical device manufacturers, Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, self insurers, employers, self-employed, wellness centers, chronic conditions, acute conditions, end-of-life conditions, rare diseases, personalized medicine, cosmetic surgery, concierge medicine, and many more. The complication is impossible for any single person to penetrate or understand.