Asher Klein, AB’11 https://mag.uchicago.edu/author/asher-klein-ab11 en The prison reformer’s dilemma https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/prison-reformers-dilemma <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1705_Klein_Prison-reformers-dilemma.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In his Twitter bio, Pfaff jokes that “I’m not contrarian—the data is.” (Photography by Chris Taggart, courtesy Fordham Law School)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/17</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A UChicago alumnus is challenging the conventional wisdom on mass incarceration.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the end of 2015, almost 2.2 million people were incarcerated in American prisons and jails, surpassing the population of New Mexico.</p> <p>The incarceration rate catapulted in the 1970s and continued to swell over the next 40 years, giving rise to today’s prison reform movement. “Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it,” then-president Barack Obama <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/14/remarks-president-naacp-conference" target="_blank">said</a> in 2015.</p> <p>Many of Obama’s efforts focused on nonviolent drug offenders, mandatory minimum sentences, and private prisons. He’s far from alone in thinking those are the best routes for prison reform, says <a href="https://www.fordham.edu/info/23171/john_pfaff" target="_blank">John Pfaff</a>, AB’97, AM’02, JD’03, PhD’05.</p> <p>But the conventional wisdom misses the real reasons why the United States is the world’s biggest jailer, argues Pfaff, a Fordham University law professor. His paradigm-challenging new book, <em><a href="https://news.law.fordham.edu/blog/2016/12/09/locked-in-the-true-causes-of-mass-incarceration-and-how-to-achieve-real-reform/" target="_blank">Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform</a></em> (Basic Books, 2017), aims to dismantle the drug‑war‑focused “standard story,” as Pfaff calls it, of why our prison population is so high. “Why I push so hard against this common narrative is because actually, in the end, it leads us to embrace solutions that won’t work.”</p> <p>Pfaff is an economist and lawyer who describes himself as a “prisons and criminal justice quant.” He’s spent years diving into data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center on State Courts, seeking to understand the problem and politics of mass incarceration.</p> <p>The book is jammed with statistics, but a few simple ones help illustrate why Pfaff thinks the standard story falls short.</p> <p>For instance, drug crimes account for about 16 percent of state prisoners, while violent crimes account for more than half. Violent crimes, Pfaff argues, are the primary driver of the swollen prison rate and a better place to focus reform efforts.</p> <p>“We’ve convinced people that we can do so much just by targeting drugs that they don’t feel the need to start wrestling with, how do we handle violence?”</p> <p>Pfaff writes that three things have driven the American prison boom. First, sentencing for violent crimes has grown harsher; second, prosecutors’ power is rarely checked; and third, prison guard unions and politicians can have even stronger incentives to maximize the size of prisons than the for-profit private prisons loathed by reformers.</p> <p>Pfaff says his findings on prosecutors are the most important in the book, as they get far less scrutiny than police, judges, and prison officials. In fact, he could find no data analyzing prosecutors’ choices until he stumbled upon an obscure data set from the National Center for State Courts.</p> <p>It was a eureka moment. He saw that between 1994 and 2008, crime reports and the number of arrests fell, yet prosecutors filed more felony cases in state courts.</p> <p>The probability that a felony charge led to prison time stayed the same (about one in four) under Pfaff’s analysis. Simply by filing more felony charges, prosecutors brought about a 40 percent increase in prison admissions.</p> <p>Pfaff concludes that prosecutors need charging guidelines similar to judges’ sentencing guidelines—scoring systems that weigh elements in a case so that similar offenders are treated equally. Currently they have “unfettered discretion” over how to handle a case in which, for example, a dozen different statutes might apply.</p> <p>And he’d like to see more prosecutors representing only cities, rather than counties, so that richer whiter suburbs have less sway over criminal justice in poorer urban areas with larger minority populations.</p> <p>As for why anyone would want to cut time served for a violent crime, that’s the notion Pfaff says people have most wanted to debate as he’s promoted the book. His thinking on the question is still evolving.</p> <p>He acknowledges lighter sentencing is a political third-rail in a country like the United States. Reducing sentences for violent crime is “the one part where left, right, or center, it’s a very hard road … to get people to come along with me.”</p> <p>That’s the case for Vikrant Reddy, a senior research fellow on criminal justice reform at the Charles Koch Institute. Reddy calls the book “one of the most important contributions an academic has made in the criminal justice space in many years,” but he’s cautious about fundamentally rethinking punishments for violent crimes. “For very serious violent offenders, the sentences are going to be long and probably need to be long,” Reddy says.</p> <p>Pfaff thinks long sentences haven’t worked as a deterrent and aren’t cost efficient. He favors shifting money from prisons toward interventions proven to prevent violence in the first place. For instance, studies show that CeaseFire, <a href="https://magazine.uchicago.edu/0310/alumni/vitae.shtml" target="_blank">a Chicago program</a> working to break cycles of violence and retaliation, reduced shooting rates. (The program’s funding was cut in 2015—right before gun violence skyrocketed.)</p> <p>Elsewhere, Pfaff sees an all-too-common urge in prison reform measures to balance shorter sentences for nonviolent offenses with harsher punishment for violent ones, as South Carolina did in a lauded 2010 reform bill.</p> <p>None of this is to say that Pfaff believes ending the drug war is a bad idea. He’s for it, even if he thinks it’s a relatively small contributor to the incarceration rate.</p> <p>He takes heart, too, in the recent bipartisan trend in prison reform that’s coalesced around the standard story. Some in the conservative industrialist Koch brothers’ orbit have teamed with liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to combat mandatory minimum sentences, earning a shout-out from Obama in that 2015 speech.</p> <p>Pfaff thinks the election of tough-on-crime Donald Trump won’t make much difference to the prison reform movement. If he’s right about what’s putting people in prison, trying to change legislation and executive action at a national level won’t be as effective as reaching out to the thousands of prosecutors across the country and convincing them to change.</p> <p>Pfaff has plenty of ideas he’s willing to share with reformers of all political stripes. He hopes his book will help them unite around new, more effective strategies to reduce the prison population—though he acknowledges it won’t be simple. “I understand that you don’t turn our system around on a dime. You have to work your way into this,” he says. “Ironically, drugs is the gateway policy issue to reform.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/mass-incarceration" hreflang="en">Mass incarceration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/criminal-justice" hreflang="en">Criminal justice</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/prison" hreflang="en">Prison</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/crime" hreflang="en">Crime</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/illegal-drugs" hreflang="en">Illegal Drugs</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Follow</strong> Plaff (<a href="https://twitter.com/JohnFPfaff" target="_blank">@JohnFPfaff</a>) on Twitter.</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/prison-reformers-dilemma" data-a2a-title="The prison reformer’s dilemma"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Fprison-reformers-dilemma&amp;title=The%20prison%20reformer%E2%80%99s%20dilemma"></a></span> Tue, 09 May 2017 15:01:25 +0000 jmiller 6440 at https://mag.uchicago.edu After the attacks https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/after-attacks <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1608_Klein_After-attacks.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/27/2016 - 13:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Recently Moline has been studying volunteer firefighters’ cancer risks. (Photography by Jason Smith)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Summer/16</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Many 9/11 first responders still face serious health problems. Jacqueline Moline, AB’84, MD’88, has been helping them since 2001.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The official 9/11 disaster area radiates from the World Trade Center site to the western edges of Brooklyn, covering lower Manhattan and just brushing the tip of Governors Island.</p> <p><a href="http://medicine.hofstra.edu/department/populationhealth/populationhealth_chair_moline.html" target="_blank">Jacqueline Moline</a>, AB’84, MD’88, was inside that ring, on Delancey Street, when she heard the first plane strike. “You could hear it, the impact,” she remembers. “Someone screamed, ‘We’re under attack.’”</p> <p>She has spent the nearly 15 years since caring for the first responders who rushed in to help.</p> <p>The new One World Trade Center is visible across the East River from the ninth-floor clinic Moline directs. The <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/locations/queens-world-trade-center-health-program" target="_blank">Queens World Trade Center Health Program</a> monitors and treats a cohort of 3,000 police officers, construction workers, and other responders. (Firefighters have their own program, as do area residents.) Many are still affected by the million tons of toxic alkaline dust released in the Twin Towers’ collapse and by mental health issues.</p> <p>Moline, the founding chair and professor of occupational medicine, epidemiology, and prevention at <a href="http://medicine.hofstra.edu" target="_blank">Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine</a>, was a leader in organizing a long-term medical response plan to that unique occupational hazard, and she’s fought hard to secure and retain federal funding for her work. “They were exposed to a complex and unprecedented mixture of toxic chemicals, including dust, glass shards, and carcinogens like benzene, asbestos, and dioxin,” Moline told a congressional subcommittee in 2009, testifying on behalf of the<a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1786" target="_blank"> James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act</a>, which provides funding to her clinic today.</p> <p>After 9/11, first responders and others who worked at the disaster site almost all developed a severe, hacking, persistent cough. Today some have lung and sinus problems, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and more complex conditions. “We’re not quite sure why … some people had a more robust reaction,” she says.</p> <p>The mental toll included post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. The new worry is cancer—responders have elevated rates of certain types, such as multiple myeloma. Still, most continue to work. “They’re getting by,” Moline says.</p> <p>Moline has been concerned about the health of 9/11 first responders since the day of the attacks. That morning she headed to a nearby hospital, but they didn’t need extra help. There wasn’t much to be done when she was paged into her office at Mt. Sinai Hospital. But Moline and her occupational medicine colleagues were well aware of the dangers facing the responders at the World Trade Center.</p> <p>In the 1993 truck bombing that the towers withstood, the local government asked the team, already experienced in asbestos exams, to give rescue and recovery workers respiratory clearance examinations. The evaluations are used to determine whether a worker is medically able to wear a respirator to prevent dust and smoke inhalation.</p> <p>Moline had volunteers ready to perform the examinations in 2001, but the offer wasn’t taken up amid the overwhelming chaos. The lack of coordinated medical oversight was a tragic missed opportunity. The dust surrounding the rescue and recovery workers was as alkaline as bleach, yet after the first couple of days there were “truckloads of respirators that people weren’t using effectively.” Doctors could have shown workers how to use them correctly and ensured the masks fit. Moline thinks having experts on site “would have given more of a sense that you need to protect yourselves.”</p> <p>On September 13, Moline and the Mt. Sinai occupational medicine team met at the home of their colleague Jaime Szeinuk to brainstorm what downstream effects responders might experience. “We felt we really, really have to think what’s going to happen down the road,” says Szeinuk, who works in Moline’s clinic today.</p> <p>Backed by politicians, especially then-senator Hillary Clinton (“The program would not exist without her,” Moline says), their ideas turned into a treatment and monitoring program that laid the groundwork for today’s <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/index.html" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Trade Center Health Program</a>.</p> <p>Now there are seven clinics in the New York City area where responders can go for checkups or federally funded medical treatment. A raft of research by Moline and others has since explored the effects of WTC exposure based on clinical findings and the health surveys responders periodically fill out.</p> <p>The clinics are supported by the Zadroga Act, which passed in 2010 and was signed into law the next January. It dedicated billions to monitoring and treating both first responders and those exposed to the dust. Named for a policeman who worked at Ground Zero and later died of respiratory disease, the bill stalled in Congress until former Daily Show host Jon Stewart took up the cause.</p> <p>Last year the Zadroga Act was extended to 2090, ensuring that Moline’s program will be there for the long haul. It’s a huge relief after a 15-year fight to protect health care for first responders: “Now that I don’t have to do that anymore, it’s kind of—oh my goodness, we have 75 years of funding!”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/911" hreflang="en">9/11</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/occupational-medicine" hreflang="en">occupational medicine</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/pritzker-school-medicine" hreflang="en">Pritzker School of Medicine</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="https://magazine.uchicago.edu/0612/features/caretaker-print.shtml" target="_blank">Caretaker of Memory</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Nov–Dec/06)</p> <p>“<a href="https://magazine.uchicago.edu/0112/features/remains-1.html" target="_blank">The Remains of the Day</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Dec/01)</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/after-attacks" data-a2a-title="After the attacks"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fafter-attacks&amp;title=After%20the%20attacks"></a></span> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:44:49 +0000 Anonymous 5882 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Mending the heart gender gap https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/mending-heart-gender-gap <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1508_Klein_Mending-heart-gender-gap.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 07/21/2015 - 14:12</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Left: With her mother at her UChicago graduation in 1977. Right: The NIH promotes wearing red as a symbol of women’s heart disease awareness. Bairey Merz received the Red Dress Award for Leadership in Cardiovascular Research in Women from <em>Woman’s Day Magazine</em> in 2005. (Photos courtesy C. Noel Bairey Merz, AB’77)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">July–Aug/15</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Cardiologist C. Noel Bairey Merz, AB’77, minds—and mends—the gender gap in women’s heart health.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A man clutches his arm and keels over, agony etched into his face. He’s having a heart attack, brought on by a clogged artery in a diseased heart. The symptoms are so familiar from movies and TV that cardiologist C. Noel Bairey Merz, AB’77, calls it the “Hollywood heart attack.” There’s just one problem with this scene, a bias shared by cardiac research and many Hollywood productions: men always seem to be the stars.</p> <p>By the numbers, America’s leading cause of death is at least as much a woman’s disease as it is a man’s. Since the mid-1980s, more women have died from cardiovascular disease—it killed about 65,000 more women than men in 2000. Yet their symptoms still routinely go undetected by tests designed to catch signs of heart disease common in men, says Bairey Merz, director of <a href="http://www.cedars-sinai.edu" target="_blank">Cedars-Sinai</a><a href="https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Heart-Institute/" target="_blank"> Heart Institute</a>’s <a href="https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Womens-Heart-Center/" target="_blank">Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center </a>and scientific chair of the <a href="http://www.nih.gov" target="_blank">National Institutes of Health</a>’s women-specific heart disease study, the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10334408" target="_blank">Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation</a> (WISE).</p> <p>The man clutching his arm is having what we call a coronary, the male pattern of heart disease that doctors focused on for years, ignoring another pattern, whose prevalence in women Bairey Merz and WISE colleagues identified about 15 years ago: coronary microvascular disease. This heart disease afflicts smaller blood vessels in the heart rather than the large arteries and causes atypical symptoms that are easy to miss: overwhelming fatigue, indigestion, or pain in the jaw or the back, for example.</p> <p>Medicine has made great strides since then. Today the <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/" target="_blank">American Heart Association</a> clearly differentiates between coronary microvascular disease, which affects many more women than men, and coronary heart disease, which is predominant in male heart patients.</p> <p>Warm and commanding, Bairey Merz talks about these breakthroughs on a May afternoon in her diploma-decked office at Cedars-Sinai in <a href="http://lacity.org" target="_blank">Los Angeles</a>, a few miles from Hollywood. Her research has found that up to 40 percent of women with heart disease, plus some men, have the coronary microvascular variety.</p> <p>Also known as cardiac syndrome X, the disease narrows the small arteries of the heart, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle but not producing the telltale lumpy plaque deposits that coronary heart disease causes and that doctors look for. “Women are pretty good at putting the fatty plaque into the wall” of the coronary arteries, Bairey Merz says. While there isn’t a strict split, it’s roughly true that when it comes to heart disease, “women erode, men explode,” as Bairey Merz puts it in a <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/noel_bairey_merz_the_single_biggest_health_threat_women_face?language=en" target="_blank">2011 TEDxWomen talk</a> that’s been viewed online more than 600,000 times.</p> <p>Doctors still turn away patients presenting with microvascular heart disease thinking there’s nothing wrong, Bairey Merz says. They do so less frequently now, though, thanks to the pioneering work of another cardiologist, former NIH director <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_145.html" target="_blank">Bernadine Healy</a>.</p> <p>In 1991, newly appointed as the first woman to head the medical research agency, Healy wrote a <em><a href="http://www.nejm.org" target="_blank">New England Journal of Medicine</a></em> op-ed about gender bias in heart disease research and treatment. The article was titled “<a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199107253250408" target="_blank">The Yentl Syndrome</a>,” after Isaac Bashevis Singer’s fictional young woman who has to dress like a man in order to study a Jewish holy text.</p> <p>Two studies published in the same issue showed that men were screened and treated for coronary heart disease more aggressively than women with similar symptoms. “Once a woman showed that she was just like a man, by having severe coronary artery disease or a myocardial infarction, then she was treated as a man would be,” Healy wrote. But that usually came when she was lying in a hospital bed; women and doctors didn’t seem to recognize that heart disease was the leading cause of death among women, “not a man’s disease in disguise.”</p> <p>This call to action was a watershed moment in women’s health care, and in Bairey Merz’s own career. The editorial “really rang true,” she says. In her own research as a young fellow and assistant clinical professor at Cedars-Sinai and <a href="http://www.ucla.edu" target="_blank">UCLA</a>, she had been finding unexplained differences between cardiac disease in men and in women, with worse outcomes for women. She’d brought up these results with her mentors, but found little encouragement.</p> <p>Healy’s op-ed “consolidated what I had been seeing in my research and what I had been trying to explain” to those senior doctors—whom today she credits mainly with not getting in her way as she began to investigate gender bias in cardiac medicine.</p> <p>Bairey Merz had been part of another women’s equality movement as a teenager. A year after <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html" target="_blank">Title IX</a> was passed, she received a full-ride academic-athletic scholarship for <a href="http://athletics.uchicago.edu/sports/wswimdive/index" target="_blank">swimming</a> to the University of Chicago—an achievement that landed her on the cover of <em><a href="http://parade.com" target="_blank">Parade Magazine</a></em> in September 1973. “If it hadn’t been for the scholarship, I sincerely doubt I’d have been able to go to Chicago,” she told <em>Parade</em>.</p> <p>After college Bairey Merz attended <a href="http://hms.harvard.edu" target="_blank">Harvard Medical School</a> and then completed an internal medicine residency at the <a href="http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu" target="_blank">University of California</a>’s <a href="https://www.ucsf.edu" target="_blank">San Francisco</a> campus. While she studied and began her career, the percentage of US medical doctorate degrees awarded to women kept rising. When she began college, only one woman earned an MD, DDS, or similar degree for every 10 men, according to the <a href="http://www.ed.gov" target="_blank">Department of Education</a>. By 1984, when Bairey Merz became chief resident at UCSF, women were earning nearly one-third of medical degrees (they overtook men in 2003). Bairey Merz credits the influx of women into the field for much of the progress in closing the heart health gender gap.</p> <p>Bairey Merz has chaired the WISE study since 1996. The project has yielded more than 200 publications, including her team’s groundbreaking work into coronary microvascular disease. “Everything that we do is like Christmas,” she says, “because so little was done before.”</p> <p>With her TEDx talk and appearances on shows like <em><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/2020" target="_blank">20/20</a></em> and <em><a href="http://abc.go.com/shows/good-morning-america" target="_blank">Good Morning America</a></em>, Bairey Merz hopes to draw the kind of attention and funding that earned breast cancer a whole month of pink-tinged NFL games to remind women to get screened. Current spending on research into heart disease and women amounts to less than 10 percent of what is spent on breast cancer, she says, “despite the fact that heart disease kills 10 times more women than breast cancer every day.” Meanwhile, in her day-to-day work at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai she spends about half her time on cardiac research and the rest teaching medical students and seeing patients. One of her patients, Danielle Burgener, is a case study in what more doctors can do for women’s heart disease and what women need to learn.</p> <p>When she awoke in the middle of the night, 25 years old, fit, and feeling terrible chest pain, Burgener waited for hours before going to a hospital, thinking a vitamin pill she swallowed was caught in her chest. “You are much too young to be having a heart attack,” the on-call cardiologist scoffed.” Luckily she was stuck in the hospital while another doctor’s tests were completed. They came back positive for heart disease, and the cardiologist returned to apologize, Burgener says.</p> <p>She found a much more willing ear when she was referred to the Women’s Heart Clinic, where Bairey Merz and her team put her on a treatment plan designed for coronary microvascular dysfunction. Burgener was relieved to find doctors who weren’t bewildered by her symptoms. “I had a physician that listened to me and understood the impact that this disease would have on my life.” Six years later, she’s alive, fit, and so thankful for the treatment she received that she has become an educator and advocate herself, working to keep other women from waiting as long to get help as she did.</p> <hr /><h2><strong>Milestones</strong></h2> <p><strong>1973</strong><br /> Enrolls at UChicago on new Gertrude Dudley Scholarship for women scholar-athletes</p> <p><strong>1985</strong><br /> Joins Cedars-Sinai Department of Cardiology, following Harvard Medical School and residency at UCSF</p> <p><strong>1996</strong><br /> Begins the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute–sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation as chair</p> <p><strong>2001</strong><br /> Named director of Cedars-Sinai’s Women’s Heart Center, later named for donor Barbra Streisand</p> <p><strong>2008</strong><br /> Named the inaugural Dr. Carolyn McCue Woman Cardiologist of the Year</p> <p><strong>2014</strong><br /> Receives the Alumni Professional Achievement Award from the UChicago Alumni Association</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/heart-disease" hreflang="en">Heart Disease</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/health" hreflang="en">Health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/cardiology" hreflang="en">Cardiology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/c-vitae" hreflang="en">C Vitae</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/mending-heart-gender-gap" data-a2a-title="Mending the heart gender gap"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fmending-heart-gender-gap&amp;title=Mending%20the%20heart%20gender%20gap"></a></span> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:12:41 +0000 jmiller 4871 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Indie cred https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/indie-cred <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1402_Klein_Indie-cred.png" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 12/23/2013 - 10:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Telling Oscar Grant III’s story was “a sacred thing,” Spyropoulos says. (Photography by Drew Reynolds)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Jan–Feb/14</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The critical success of the drama <em>Fruitvale Station</em> gives an aspiring producer’s career a boost.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A year ago, the gritty indie film <em>Fruitvale Station</em> won drama awards from the Sundance Film Festival’s jury and audience—only the fourth film in 29 years to pick up both. In May it received a standing ovation at Cannes on its way to receiving an award at that festival.</p> <p><em>Fruitvale Station</em> tells the true story of how Oscar Grant III spent New Year’s Eve 2008, an otherwise normal day except that it ended with a bullet in his back. Unarmed, he was shot and killed by a police officer in the eponymous Oakland, California, train station in the early morning of January 1, 2009, in what was later ruled involuntary manslaughter—the officer claimed he meant to use his Taser on Grant.</p> <p>Haroula Rose Spyropoulos, AB’02, MAT’02, was one of two associate producers on the project. Reviews noted the movie’s strong performances and deft handling of the incident’s racial dynamics. But the soulful English major is quick to point out that the cast and crew didn’t think about accolades during the shoot; they were losing sleep over dramatizing a conflict that went deeper than showing good guys and bad. “The thing that carried everyone through,” Spyropoulos says, “because you don’t have a ton of resources, you’re not spoiled, it’s not a big-budget Hollywood movie, was that you always knew you were doing something important and that mattered, and I swear to God that was such a light inside of everyone. It was like a sacred thing.”</p> <p>Spyropoulos’s work on the movie included helping director Ryan Coogler and the production team in casting, securing financing, scouting locations, and giving feedback on the script and editing. She assisted in communicating with Grant’s friends and family, for instance securing releases, and pieced together the film’s soundtrack with recommendations from Coogler.</p> <p>There’s still a bullet hole in the platform at Fruitvale Station, she says. Before the camera rolled on the climactic gunshot scene, Coogler had Michael B. Jordan, the actor who played Grant, lie on top of it to bring real-life emotion to the scene. “Those were nights where beforehand we would all get into a circle and hold hands and basically say a prayer,” Spyropoulos says. “It was pretty scary on some level to reenact something that has happened so recently.”</p> <p>Spyropoulos says that Coogler and producers Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi didn’t want to give Grant’s story the ripped-from-the-headlines treatment that plays on stereotypes and sensationalism. “It was a nice opportunity to give someone’s life a kind of honor that was taken away,” she says. She thinks that <em>Fruitvale</em>’s intimacy is what made it connect with so many people: “The more personal and specific you get, the more universal you become.” The cast and crew were hopeful that Oscar nominations, announced in mid- January, would recognize the film, though Spyropoulos says she likely wouldn’t get a seat at the award show.</p> <p>Spyropoulos is also a singer-songwriter, and shooting<em> Fruitvale</em> meant a long break from recording and performing. Now the Chicago native, who gives off a gypsy–June Carter vibe, is readying a new album. Her lonesome, jangly songs have aired on TV shows including <em>How I Met Your Mother</em> and <em>American Horror Story</em>.</p> <p>Spyropoulos may never get back to another long tour, though. <em>Fruitvale</em>’s success is opening doors for her in the movie business. She’s again working with Coogler, her former film school classmate at the University of Southern California, this time as a cowriter and coproducer on an HBO pilot that will also draw from real Oakland lives. She can’t say much more about it, but she can talk about optioning a book by another artistic alumna, Bonnie Jo Campbell, AB’84.</p> <p>Campbell, who loved <em>Fruitvale Station</em>, says the movie’s success convinced her agent that they should sign a deal with Spyropoulos, who came calling in January 2012 to inquire about an adaptation of Campbell’s novel <em>Once Upon a River</em> (W. W. Norton, 2012). “We just thought, let’s just wait a while and make sure,” Campbell says. “It was nothing against Haroula, she always seemed like the real deal. It’s such a big chance to work with somebody brand-new who doesn’t have experience. And then she was getting experience in the meanwhile, so it was perfect.” They signed the deal in October 2013, giving Spyropoulos first dibs on the rights to the novel and Campbell her first book option.</p> <p>“A year goes by and everything’s changed because nobody knew this movie was going to be such a success,” Spyropoulos says of <em>Fruitvale</em>. It’s left her with lots of irons in the fire. “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says. ”You’ve just got to keep doing your thing and doing the stuff that you resonate with and that feels authentic.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/film" hreflang="en">Film</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/indie-cred" data-a2a-title="Indie cred"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Findie-cred&amp;title=Indie%20cred"></a></span> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 16:09:56 +0000 jmiller 2668 at https://mag.uchicago.edu In the court of public opinion https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/court-public-opinion <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1310_Klein_In-the-court-of-public-opinion.png" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Fri, 09/13/2013 - 10:24</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11248435@N04/8545796565/in/photolist-e2arA6-99pxe1-64Ng8q-eLHW2n-eaxSpr-6YrLgb-6tcn4c-ecM4in-dt9qE-7EU1nU-7bb5RV-DkBvb-eRfSCu-99njYN-6F1ote-7zWoY1-fAbRAz-e1XDjm-am5Yad-CXWvW-77uGKm-77qMqc-77qMrg-4Xcn5w-QF2mz-bvBe1g-7VDMah-87VXPA-ccYRvw-4wPPJz-57bwfB-57bvA6-57bukk-57buHR-57buVx-57bwXz-57bjnK-57fvHN-aACN4x-5GQWBm-5GQVV5-5GLVgM-5GQW67-5GR9VL-5GLRrV-5GLzon-5GLSwZ-5GRayq-5GLRRB-5GLVZk-5GLR5r" target="_blank">Photography</a> by Lotus Carroll, <span style="display: inline-block; font-size: 14px; padding-left: 2px;"><span style="display: inline; font-size: 12px;">CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)</span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Sept–Oct/13</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Harvey Levin, JD’75, purveyor of celebrity news at <em>TMZ</em>, wrestles with issues of journalistic ethics and privacy.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The first issue of <em>People</em> magazine hit newsstands March 4, 1974, with Mia Farrow as <em>The Great Gatsby</em>’s Daisy Buchanan on its cover. University of Chicago Law School student Harvey Levin was immediately hooked. He would race his roommate to finish new issues on the train from Hyde Park to their downtown apartment. “After reading cases and all that, it was just like crack,” Levin, JD’75, says. “It was my cocaine and I just got addicted”—a gateway drug, as it turned out, from the law and academia to a career in the hothouse of Hollywood gossip.</p> <p>Now he’s racing—and often beating—the competition in posting celebrity news online. Levin’s website, <em>TMZ</em>, churns paparazzi photos and anonymous tips into 25 to 40 posts a day covering the public gaffes, police run-ins, romances, and rehab stints of stars, from teen idol Justin Bieber to Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence. Named for the “thirty-mile zone” around LA that determines pay rates on union film projects (outside the zone, or “on location,” rates go up), the site draws millions of hits each month. <em>TMZ</em> also airs a TV show six days a week, where Levin wisecracks over the day’s developments with his reporters and producers.</p> <p>Producing <em>TMZ</em> is the latest in a string of career changes—law professor, TV personality, journalist, now media mogul—that Levin, 62, credits with keeping him young. “What I feel I’ve done right is I’ve challenged myself in trying new things,” he says.</p> <p>Today Levin is smiling, slumped on a couch in <em>TMZ</em>’s offices in West Los Angeles. Dressed in blue from watch to polo to rubber sneakers, the wry, exuberant interviewer familiar to <em>People’s Court</em> viewers is friendly and accommodating in person. He says he rises at 2:30 a.m. most days, and on this late afternoon he looks tired after typing up a just-verified story. On his desk is a University of Chicago Law School tote bag that he carries every day: “Everybody in my office calls it a purse, and it’s not a purse.”</p> <p>Levin remembers law school fondly as “three years where people tried to set traps for me.” Learning to navigate and anticipate lines of legal questioning in class gave him critical thinking skills that he still uses every day. “I think I use my Law School education more not practicing law than I did practicing law,” he says. But “I was an enigma at that school, I really was.” In his third year he flew to Los Angeles to appear on the game show <em>High Rollers</em> to try to win a boat to take to Florida—he had accepted a job after graduation from his former UChicago professor, University of Miami Law School dean Soia Mentschikoff. Losing to a housewife from Van Nuys, California, he arrived in Miami boatless, but his pop culture habit came with him. “At the time, Harvey probably was the only law professor in America to have the then-new <em>People</em> magazine delivered to his office,” says Jay Feinman, JD’75, his colleague at Miami and now a professor at Rutgers University.</p> <p>In 1977, Levin left Miami for his native Los Angeles and joined the Whittier College of Law (now Whittier Law School) in Orange County as assistant professor of law. He taught classes including Professional Responsibility and Real Property. The next year, some Californians were campaigning to limit property tax increases in the state constitution. Levin’s dean at Whittier led the line against the amendment but needed someone who didn’t stand to benefit from the low taxes to debate popular antitax crusader Howard Jarvis. “He was debating people who were against his proposition and killing everybody because they all had vested interests.” Then 27, Levin didn’t own much of anything, so the dean threw him in the ring.</p> <p>“It became a thing,” Levin says. “I debated him all over the state. We would do five-hour radio marathons.” Jarvis’s side eventually won, and Proposition 13 remains an enduring and controversial feature of California law. But Levin’s feisty performances earned him a talk radio show, on which he was known as Doctor Law. A legal column for the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> soon followed.</p> <p>Levin’s radio show caught the ear of John Rhinehart, a line producer for <em>The People’s Court</em>, the now-iconic daytime TV show that replicates small-claims court as fervid drama. On Rhinehart’s recommendation—for being funny and knowing the law—the producers added Levin to their team as a behind-the-scenes legal consultant. (Today he’s the host and a legal reporter on the show’s second incarnation, getting reactions to the cases from people on the street.) While at the show, Levin began working as a reporter at Los Angeles’s KCBS-TV. He covered the O. J. Simpson murder trial there, and his work on credit card fraud, outpatient care, and workers’ compensation fraud earned him Emmys for investigative reporting.</p> <p><em>TMZ</em> was launched in 2005 after Levin’s syndicated show about stars’ legal issues, <em>Celebrity Justice</em>, stalled out. The show’s producer came to him with an idea for a website. “I said I could not be less interested.” But later he realized a digital news operation would free reporters from the strictures of TV scheduling, which could stall a breaking story until after another outlet got the scoop. “If we can create a news operation around the website, we can beat everybody,” Levin says. “That was a simple premise and it worked.” One of <em>TMZ</em>’s first big stories reported Mel Gibson’s July 2006 arrest for driving under the influence and his subsequent anti-Semitic rant to a police officer. The story was posted the night of the arrest, followed by pages from the arrest report two hours later. Just about every news outlet wanted a piece of the action; <em>TMZ</em> had arrived.</p> <p>The site’s celebrity-baiting stories have earned it a degree of infamy. But at Levin’s insistence, what gets reported is subject to intense debate among the staff. Standards vary in the gossip business, but Levin is intent on taking an ethical approach. “I don’t live by hard-and-fast rules in this job,” he told UChicago Law School students at <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKv52hnXXFQ" target="_blank">a 2010 talk on privacy and the media</a>. “I can’t give you a rigid principle on where the line of privacy is, and I struggle with it all the time.”</p> <p><em>TMZ</em> cameramen sign contracts stipulating that they will not chase or incite people, trespass, or otherwise break the law in pursuit of a story, Levin said in the talk, “and we’ve fired people who violate that.” Even public records can be off limits. A “shocking document” in a court case involving Britney Spears, for example, revealed embarrassing personal information about the singer’s parenting. There was no gray area about <em>TMZ</em>’s right to publish it—the court clerk included it in a public filing—and no question about public interest. But Levin sensed the filing was a mistake; the nature of the information told him the file should have been sealed.</p> <p>He was right. Levin called Spears’s attorney, who was mortified at the blunder, and the court withdrew the filing before anybody but <em>TMZ</em> had it. “The only copy that was out there was ours,” Levin told his student audience, “and I ripped it up.”</p> <p>Levin knows that some think <em>TMZ</em> has taken the notion of “parasocial experience”—one-way relationships like those between celebrities and their fans—to an extreme. “People are now obsessed with other people’s lives in a really unhealthy way,” he says, summing up the criticism. To him, websites like <em>TMZ</em> are just the natural next step of mass media amplifying a rumor mill that has always existed in one form or another. “Journalists kind of became the town gossips,” Levin said in his talk at the Law School. “They may be reporting important things or frivolous things, but long before the Internet came along, journalism became part of the parasocial experience. … The extension of that is <em>TMZ</em>.”</p> <h3>Milestones</h3> <p><strong>1972: </strong>Passing through Chicago, Levin learns he can enroll in the Law School—after fall quarter has started.</p> <p><strong>1975:</strong> Levin is admitted to the State Bar of California.</p> <p><strong>1983: </strong>Harvey Levin Productions, which produces <em>TMZ</em> and Levin’s other media projects, is founded soon after Levin joins <em>The</em> <em>People’s Court</em>.</p> <p><strong>1985:&ensp;</strong>Levin leaves Whittier Law School and academia.</p> <p><strong>1994:&ensp;</strong>O. J. Simpson is arrested, a story Levin would follow as a broadcast reporter for two-and-a-half years.</p> <p><strong>1996:&ensp;</strong>With a burgeoning career in media, Levin deactivates his bar registration.</p> <p><strong>2002:&ensp;</strong><em>Celebrity Justice</em> debuts on TV.</p> <p><strong>2005:&ensp;</strong>Levin’s gossip website, <em>TMZ</em>, goes live.</p> <p><strong>2007:&ensp;</strong>First airing of <em>TMZ</em>’s TV show, known for silly on-the-street interviews conducted by paparazzi.</p> <p><strong>2013:&ensp;</strong><em>TMZ</em> launches two-hour bus tours of New York City and Hollywood.<br /> <em></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Asher Klein, AB’11, is a reporter in Southern California.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/celebrity" hreflang="en">Celebrity</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/journalism" hreflang="en">Journalism</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/television" hreflang="en">Television</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/c-vitae" hreflang="en">C Vitae</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/court-public-opinion" data-a2a-title="In the court of public opinion"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Fcourt-public-opinion&amp;title=In%20the%20court%20of%20public%20opinion"></a></span> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 15:24:48 +0000 jmiller 2374 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Sharp cards https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/sharp-cards <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1304_Klein_Sharp-cards_0.jpg" width="700" height="325" alt="Weinstein and his partners stack the decks against decorum." title="Weinstein and his partners stack the decks against decorum." typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous</span></span> <span>Fri, 03/01/2013 - 14:59</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Weinstein and his partners stack the decks against decorum. (Photography by Joy Olivia Miller)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Mar–Apr/13</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Does the popularity of Cards Against Humanity mean everyone’s horrible?</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>You might describe the middle of 2011 as kind to Eliot Weinstein, AB’11, or memorable, or life changing. He might deem his late spring like “Being on fire” or “Getting drunk on mouthwash.”</p> <p>That June, before the nerdy, well-spoken kid graduated from the College, he and some high school friends sold the first copies of a game they’d invented called <a href="http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/" target="_blank">Cards Against Humanity</a>. The self-described “party game for horrible people” is a foul-mouthed Mad Libs for the thoughtful and/or inebriated.</p> <p>Launched after a quick $15,000 fundraising campaign two years ago, Cards Against Humanity kudzued to the top of the best-rated toys and games list on Amazon.com. “We’ve kind of gone from zero to 60 really quickly in the last year and a half,” Weinstein says. “When we started, we started very small and now we’ve made serious money.”</p> <p>When they’re not sold out, there are three Cards Against Humanity products regularly for sale on Amazon: the original deck of 550 cards and two 100-card expansion packs. Each has a lot of white cards and fewer black cards. Black cards ask questions, like “How did I lose my virginity?” White cards provide answers. In a standard round, one player draws a black card and reads it aloud, then everyone submits a white card from their hand to answer it—for instance, “Poor life choices” or “Puppies!” The questioner reads all the submissions aloud and picks the winner.</p> <p>Sometimes it’s a punchy pop culture reference that wins a round (B: War! What is it good for? W: RoboCop.), and the sad-but-true always does well (B: What don’t you want to find in your Chinese food? W: Horse meat.). Generally the combination that gets the room laughing does best. Swap a couple of the answers above and you see how Cards Against Humanity can take on the air of <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> at its most button pushing, especially when the cards are not as innocuous. If <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> is <em>Seinfeld</em> without the network-television restraint, then Cards Against Humanity could be considered the pay-cable version of the similar, but tamer, Apples to Apples.</p> <p>As with Curb, the game’s not for everyone. Weinstein remembers an e-mail from a fan who liked the game but thought a card referring to the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech crossed the line. Yet, he says, e-mail requests arrive from around the world almost daily, asking for translations and nation-specific cards, which Canada already has. “People want to laugh at horrible things,” he says. It appeals to those with “a twisted sense of humor or something in common with us,” meaning the eight-person roundtable that’s still testing, marketing, and producing the game.</p> <p>That group conceived of Cards Against Humanity at a New Year’s party in a suburb north of Chicago as a way to break the ice. Friends from Highland Park High School, they refined the concept and put it on crowdsourcing website Kickstarter, where in two months it racked up 389 percent of what they said they needed to fund the project. Every donation purchased at least a digital version of the game. The group built up its roster of cards and discussed pricing models over frequent conference calls. Weinstein says he treated the project like another RSO. Now it’s a side job as he applies to economics PhD programs.</p> <p>The business model is an experiment in pricing. Cards Against Humanity is available for free download on the game’s website. Alternatively, you can buy a hard copy for $25. Ask Weinstein if the game is profitable and you’ll get a chuckle. The team won’t release their financial data, but they did publish earnings statistics online for a recent 30-card holiday pack released on a pay-what-you-will model. Averaging just $3.89 paid per pack, the release still earned around $70,000. Profits on the hundreds of thousands of sets that have been sold at full price probably make that sum look paltry.</p> <p>No matter whether you think free markets are better than “Edible underpants” or are for horrible people, it’s hard to argue against a product that’s free and can still pay a kid’s way through graduate school.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/games" hreflang="en">Games</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/sharp-cards" data-a2a-title="Sharp cards"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fsharp-cards&amp;title=Sharp%20cards"></a></span> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 20:59:31 +0000 Anonymous 1844 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Economy of words https://mag.uchicago.edu/economics-business/economy-words <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em>Above:</em> Goolsbee, in class. (Photography by Jason Smith) <em>Below:</em> The White House White Boards gave Goolsbee a public forum to address issues in more depth than the typical cable-television sound bites. (<a href="http://whitehouse.gov" target="_blank">whitehouse.gov</a>)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">July–Aug/12</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Austan Goolsbee has left behind his DC battle armor, but he can still mail in a good barb or two.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>It’s 2005, Professor <a href="http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/austan.goolsbee/" target="_blank">Austan Goolsbee</a> informs his class, and Pixar is worth around $7 billion. “You’re the board of Disney. How many of you think you should buy them?” There are roughly 65 students in the classroom; around 55 hands pop up.</p> <p>Disney did buy Pixar in 2006, after a protracted courtship, but that’s beside the point. This is a case study for Goolsbee’s spring-quarter course Economics and Policy in the Telecom, Media, and Technology Industries, and his goal is to get at all sides of the issue. “Now you’re the board of Pixar,” he tells the students and asks how many would agree to the sale. Only a few hands rise, and slowly, as the class rethinks the value of that price tag.</p> <p>Goolsbee stepped down a year ago from his job as chair of the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea/" target="_blank">Council of Economic Advisers</a> (CEA) so he could return to his “dream job,” as he described it in one interview: at the <a href="http://www.chicagobooth.edu/" target="_blank">University of Chicago Booth School of Business</a>, where he pushes MBA students to think about market forces and government policy in cases like Disney/Pixar or NBC’s sale to Comcast.</p> <p>Lanky and genial, well liked by his friends and colleagues, Goolsbee left the CEA last August, having also finished his time as staff director and chief economist of the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/perab" target="_blank">President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board</a>, a group of business executives, professors, and others convened to brainstorm how to jump-start the economy. The Robert P. Gwinn professor of economics was happy with his term in Washington and happy to say he’s done with official politics—and trying to stave off the financial crisis—for at least the near future.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Goolsbee remains something of a politico among the policy wonks using new media to connect with each other and weigh in on breaking news. He keeps a lively Twitter feed, in which he distills his experience crunching the nation’s raw economic numbers. It’s a way to speak about politics while avoiding the partisan bickering of Washington. “You can’t help but look at the circumstance in Washington and most of the time think, ‘Oh, thank God we’re not in the middle of that,’” Goolsbee says. “There’s no policy happening; it’s just a lot of arguing.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://magazine.uchicago.edu/1208/1208_Klein_Economy-of-words_spotA.jpg" alt="" align="right" hspace="10" /><strong>Not that arguing was new to Goolsbee</strong>—he’s been on the Chicago faculty since 1995, the year he defended his economics dissertation at MIT. Before that the Texas native earned a BA and MA in the field at Yale. During his first year in New Haven, he worked as a research assistant for Nobel laureate James Tobin, who served under JFK on the Council of Economic Advisers 48 years before Goolsbee would join. Besides studying and taking care of Tobin’s Keynesian research (and sometimes his house), Goolsbee argued: As a Yale junior he was runner-up in the national intercollegiate debate championship. The next year he won it.</p> <p>Goolsbee speaks in homespun, vivid analogies and metaphors that wrap up an issue neatly and seal it with a gentle told you so. A government program meant to spur innovation through start-ups bridges a “valley of death,” as he put it, where good ideas often fail. The government’s excessive deficit is like being out of shape, he once told the <em>Daily Show</em>’s Jon Stewart. Put the government on a diet; don’t cut off a finger to lose eight ounces.</p> <p>“Austan has the mind of a brilliant economist and the voice and affect of the voice-over of a beer commercial,” says David Axelrod, AB’76, with whom Goolsbee worked on Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns. “He’s just a very down-to-earth guy, and he can take these complicated economic concepts and explain them in ways that everyone can understand and relate to.” Goolsbee was an asset on Obama’s campaign trail in 2008, when the senior economic adviser took to TV to defend Obama’s platform or debate Republican John McCain’s advisers.</p> <p>When he moved to Washington after the election, he brought a reputation as a data-first economist up on trends in public finance and the nascent study of e-commerce, both a liberal and free-market thinker. In the capital Goolsbee received genuine, if not consistent, bipartisan esteem. Conservative <em>Washington Post</em> columnist George F. Will <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/03/AR2007100302003.html" target="_blank">wrote in 2007</a>, “He seems to be the sort of person—amiable, empirical and reasonable—you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be.” In 2010 Douglas Holtz-Eakin, economic adviser for McCain’s campaign and Goolsbee’s former CNN sparring partner, said, “There are not many people who are smart, who are well trained, and at the same time can take off the gloves and be extremely populist on the airwaves and the campaign trail, and then win a comedian of the year award.” That last plaudit was a slight embellishment: a 2009 stand-up routine won Goolsbee the title of Funniest Celebrity in Washington.</p> <p>That he was doing stand-up in a year when the GDP dropped 3.5 percent and unemployment careered to 9.3 percent belies the work that went into the stimulus. Goolsbee’s view was that any proposal that cost $10 billion or more on which there was dissent ought to have a hearing before the president. “Then the president needed to have a serious case put forward of the opposite,” Goolsbee says. “Somebody should phrase it in the best possible way to make sure the president’s OK with what everybody else concluded. And so a lot of times I’d play that kind of role, not the gadfly but the foil.”</p> <p>It’s tougher to change minds across the aisle, and like many others, Goolsbee was bothered by the deep entrenchment of Beltway politics, especially when he believed the data pointed to a clear solution. He is sure, for example, that the tax record has never demonstrated a Laffer curve, which in theory proves that lower tax rates increase revenue for the government—the graph is often associated with supply-side economics. Unlike his equally argumentative colleagues in Hyde Park, politicians prefer to fight on the strength of received wisdom rather than reevaluate the data. “You know, that’s a frustrating aspect of Washington ... that it’s more like, put on the battle armor and the two sides go fight,” Goolsbee says. “It doesn’t seem to sway the debate that you say, ‘Hold on, that’s not true!’”</p> <p>He found more success speaking to a “policy-minded, educated civilian audience,” as he put it, “not policy makers but people who, if we’re talking about tax policy or patents or the auto industry, they followed what happened. They’re interested in how it’s going, and they watch people yelling at each other on cable TV and they don’t really get that great of a sense from it.” Goolsbee made the rounds on TV, from Sunday-morning talk shows to Charlie Rose and Jon Stewart. He tried communicating with laypeople more directly, inaugurating a White House–produced video blog in which Goolsbee and a handful of others argue the president’s financial policy in plain language. Called the White House White Boards, half of the videos feature the CEA chair explaining simple graphs meant to convey economic trends, like unemployment rates or the value of General Motors over time. Often he used data to argue that Republicans were wrong about some policy or assertion. “You can do about ten times more content in that than you can in a sound bite kind of environment or going on TV,” Goolsbee says.</p> <p>The White Boards didn’t always stimulate productive discussion. In a video rebuttal to a post in which Goolsbee argued against renewing the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million, a six-year-old boy asked, “Mr. President, didn’t you take math in school?” But Goolsbee also remembers being stopped on the subway by strangers who wanted to discuss the merits of Obama’s proposals, like the Startup America Initiative. “I was like, hey, this thing is working; we’re having a substantive conversation about policy on the subway. That’s a good sign.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The conversation continues into Goolsbee’s retirement from politics.</strong> He first began tweeting this past January with a political stumper, a Sarah Palin joke, and a thought about data reporting in public finance. Barring detours into sports or personal anecdotes—he remarked once about taking his daughter out fishing—or jokes with DC reporters, those first few tweets represent a fairly accurate distribution of the more than 800 Goolsbee has posted in the interim.</p> <p>Mixing commentary and comedy, <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/Austan_Goolsbee" target="_blank">@Austan_Goolsbee</a> channels its author’s personality. He tweets jokes about famous economists, including Milton Friedman, AM’33, or alerts his friend, <em>BuzzFeed</em> editor in chief Ben Smith, that Lindsay Lohan shoved past him at a Washington gala. He sounds off on the day’s econopolitical news, as in this February 24 tweet aimed at Mitt Romney’s campaign: “To the folks saying trillions lower taxes at the top will dramatically fuel growth: would that be the same ‘growth’ we had when W did it?” As Valentine’s Day approached, he teased people who buy up gold: “Roses are red. Violets are pink. Don’t listen to goldbugs. No one cares what they think.”</p> <p>Goolsbee often writes directly to reporters or lobs friendly critiques at colleagues in other schools. When jobs data get released or China announces a surprisingly low GDP, Goolsbee will comment, clarify, or spin in the space of a few minutes. It’s the same dynamic that used to go on in talk radio and, before that, in newspapers’ editorial pages—just faster and faster still. His online relationship with news is no accident; it was <em>New York Times</em> conservative columnist David Brooks, AB’82, who inspired him to try Twitter. Over dinner with a few economists, Brooks said he got a tremendous amount of news that way, and later an influential blogger told Goolsbee tweeting had taken the place of blogging. He started following people in order to keep up, then began to tweet himself.</p> <p>Twitter isn’t an end in itself: in April Goolsbee started a blog, <a href="http://goolsbee.blogspot.com/" target="_blank"><em>GoolsBlog</em></a>, explaining in the first post that “some things need a bit more treatment than 140 characters.” In the handful of posts so far, he’s discussed the federal budget and the Euro Zone. The blog prompted an article in <em>Politico</em>, which touted it as a way to get the same advice Obama did. But his principle of engaging with the news remains. “He lives in this very contemporary world of communications and politics, and he’s very steeped in academics and in theory,” says Axelrod. “He’s a guy who easily moves between both worlds.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>In the class on Disney and Pixar,</strong> Goolsbee’s loose suit rustles like drapes whenever he gesticulates—when Goolsbee speaks, his hands shape lines and squares in front of his face, as if he’s fitting together a box for his ideas. Goolsbee prompts his students to list what the companies sell, what they trade in, the size of their markets; the conversation isn’t lofty, but it is informed, and only one student seems to be browsing Facebook as the professor speaks. “That shows you that he keeps the class engaged, he’s interesting, he’s entertaining,” says MBA student Herman Tkach.</p> <p>Some professors treat students like young boxers, letting them exhaust themselves with their own thoughts before working out the right line of questioning. Or they allow them, like sponges, to take in what knowledge they can. But Goolsbee is spitballing. One minute he has his students laughing with a story about his father-in-law being forced, with handcuffs, to sit through a Broadway musical; another he clarifies the “kind of bogus” surplus effects of vertical integration with the only graph he draws that evening. There is no mention of politics besides a knock on Congress for working so slowly.</p> <p>After an hour and change of discussion, Goolsbee reveals the points he wants students to take away from the case—all of which the students have brought up themselves—like why it might have been better for Disney to sign a long-term contract with Pixar rather than acquire it for so much money. Even then there was no synthesis, no greater point, no standard of truth or good practice—he lets the students think the issue through, and then they have to decide for themselves if Disney spent its $7 billion wisely.</p> <p>Moving from a partisan for President Obama to an unbiased instructor for his students didn’t faze Goolsbee. “It really wasn’t weird at all,” he says, recalling the devil’s advocate debates he took part in at the White House. “That’s kind of like the old case method in action.” In class he seems to enjoy having the data out there. When a student suggests that Pixar could take advantage of the “one-stop-shop element” of Disney’s vertical integration, Goolsbee says the comment is “like the level in video games where you’re picking up all the coins and you can’t die.”</p> <p>Goolsbee isn’t the only former high-level economist at Chicago Booth; in fact, Randall Kroszner, the Norman R. Bobins professor of economics, served on the Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003 (he later served as governor of the Federal Reserve), and assistant professor of economics Brent Neiman was a staff economist at the CEA. Goolsbee consulted with former council chairs about how they transitioned back to academia and spoke with his friend, Raghuram Rajan, the Eric J. Gleacher distinguished service professor of finance, who served as the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2003 to 2007, about the political-decompression process.</p> <p>Rajan says a public servant returning to academia must make three major adjustments: to a lower profile, to resuming his or her research, and to “the seeming narrowness” of academic discourse. Most important is how Goolsbee deals with “going into the seminar room and listening to people debating at great lengths on issues that might seem in some situations as recasting [the question], ‘how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin.’”</p> <p>Still, when public servants return to academia, things shouldn’t simply revert to how they were before, Rajan says. Their government experience should inform their research, creating a competitive advantage against junior professors more proficient in the newest techniques. “There’s sort of a saying at Chicago: ‘you’re only as good as your last paper.’ And that holds for everyone.” For his part, Rajan finds time to balance teaching, writing, and editing with an “unpaid job” as an economic adviser to the prime minister of India.</p> <p>Goolsbee is finding his own balance: tweeting and teaching, consulting on ABC News while collaborating on a project with Anil Kashyap, the Edward Eagle Brown professor of economics and finance, about companies wary of investing after the economy and their cash flows take a dip. “He’s a little bit more externally focused,” Kashyap notes, “and motivated both by policy stuff and economics.”</p> <p>As part of a small migration of advisers and officials from Obama’s first term heading back to Chicago—including Axelrod, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and University vice president for civic engagement Derek Douglas, a former Obama urban-policy adviser—Goolsbee is not alone in looking to affect policy from afar. He’s slated to join the Axelrod-led Institute of Politics, a University initiative to encourage students aspiring to public and social service careers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Still a supporter of his old boss,</strong> a long-term career in politics wasn’t in the cards for Goolsbee. “There’s really not that many people who go and stay for a really long time,” he says. He knew it back in September 2009, as he stood at a microphone in front of the iconic brick wall at DC’s Improv comedy club, vying to be funniest man in Washington.</p> <p>Goolsbee’s bit was mostly explaining who he was and what he’d learned since entering politics. That he was part of an “all-star team of economists” in DC to address the recession made him feel better, he said: “We basically knew what to do.” Then he added, in rapid sotto voce: “Panic.” He was borrowing from Kevin Nealon’s 25-year-old <em>Saturday Night Live</em> act, Mr. Subliminal, a guy who lets slip what he’s really thinking when he talks. Explaining how easily he and Obama got along when they first met, he said, “I’m not saying that in 1961 we were, like, separated at birth (in a village in Kenya); what I’m saying is that we’re friends.”</p> <p>The <a href="http://vodpod.com/watch/2269307-austan-goolsbee-takes-top-prize-at-d-c-s-funniest-celebrity-contest" target="_blank">11-minute routine</a> covered bank bailouts, big names in politics, and how to learn from people you disagree with. The political digs make it funny, but take out the subliminal messages and it’s just a straightforward account of Goolsbee’s feelings about his temporary home. It wouldn’t make sense without the context of his experiences in Hyde Park, where he and his family packed up “like the Beverly Hillbillies” for the move to DC. Later in the routine, he adds, “I’m just a guy from Chicago (future Fed chair), and the thing is, I am proud to have played even a small part to help get Barack Obama elected president.”</p> <p> <h6><em>Updated 07.13.2012</em></h6> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/economics-business" hreflang="en">Economics &amp; Business</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/politics" hreflang="en">Politics</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/chicago-booth" hreflang="en">Chicago Booth</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/profile" hreflang="en">Profile</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/09/devil-8217-s-advocate/8611/" target="_blank">Devil’s Advocate</a>” (<em>The Atlantic</em>, Sept/11) “<a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2011/06/07/austan-goolsbee-return-chicago-booth-faculty-after-serving-obama-administration" target="_blank">Austan Goolsbee to Return to Chicago Booth Faculty after Serving in Obama Administration</a>” (University of Chicago News Office, <span class="field-content">June 7, 2011)</span> “<a href="http://uchiblogo.uchicago.edu/archives/2010/09/goolsbee_king_o.html" target="_self">Goolsbee, King of Economists</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine, UChiBLOGo</em>, September 10, 2010)</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/economics-business/economy-words" data-a2a-title="Economy of words"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Feconomics-business%2Feconomy-words&amp;title=Economy%20of%20words"></a></span> Thu, 17 May 2012 20:09:52 +0000 jmiller 1112 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Islam’s origins https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/islams-origins <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 10/19/2011 - 16:46</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Close-up of an early Quran leaf, found in Yemen: it dates to the first century of Islam, Donner says, offering evidence that the holy book was written soon after Muhammad's death. (Image courtesy of Fred Donner)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">July–Aug/11</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Historian Fred Donner offers a new reading of an old story.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Since the 19th century, Western scholarship has taken for granted that in the first 100 years after Muhammad’s revelations, Islam was practiced much the same way it is today. Western scholars explained the birth and early expansion of what is now one of the world’s largest religions through the development of its army and political institutions, the need for social change among Arabian nomads, or simple economics. But “they seldom talked about the religious motivation,” says Islamic scholar Fred M. Donner.</p> <p>A professor of Near Eastern history at the Oriental Institute and head of Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Donner instead believes Islam’s origins shared features with the genesis of Christianity.</p> <p>The idea that Christianity didn’t spring fully formed from Judaism with Jesus’s preaching is well accepted; scholars and laypeople alike understand that there was an early germinal stage before the canon was worked out at the Council of Nicea and subsequent Church council meetings.</p> <p>Donner says that Islam too went through an early “ecumenical phase” when Muhammad’s followers were a loosely defined community—Donner, following the Quran, calls them “the Believers”—that may have included Jews and Christians. These followers were committed more to monotheism than they were to Muhammad. “It was more of a monotheistic revival movement,” Donner says. In 2010 he posited this theory in <em>Muhammad and the Believers</em> (Belknap). Islam, he writes, began as a religious movement, “not as a social, economic, or ‘national’ one. The early Believers were concerned with social and political issues but only insofar as they related to concepts of piety and proper behavior needed to ensure salvation.”</p> <p>Donner’s conclusions diverge from the traditional view, which “sees Islam as being codified from the very first day,” he says. According to that story, the prophet Muhammad settled in the Arabian town of Medina after being expelled from nearby Mecca, and soon afterward he began to spread Islam. After Muhammad’s death in 632 AD, his teachings disseminated through the Middle East via military and bureaucratic expansion, eventually moving beyond Arabia.</p> <p>But according to Donner’s interpretation, it took perhaps 100 years after Muhammad’s death for the religion to consolidate and establish a Muslim identity apart from other monotheistic religions. “At a certain point, the people leading the movement redefined it to be a separate confession,” he says. “They defined Jews and Christians out of it and defined themselves as Muslims with the Quran as their scripture, the prophet Muhammad as their prophet.”</p> <p>As evidence that early Islam included Jews, Donner cites the treaty Muhammad drew up with the Medinese, which mentions Jews within the community he headed. To Donner this indicates that for Jews at the time, believing Muhammad was a prophet didn’t conflict with the Torah. In fact, Donner interprets the Quran’s use of the word <em>muslim</em>, literally “one who submits,” to connote a monotheist rather than a follower of Muhammad.</p> <p>This definition seemed to persist: seventh-century Christian sermons indicate that some Christians of the time still considered Islam a new and errant form of their religion. And in the early eighth century John of Damascus, a Christian monk who served in the court of the Muslim King of Syria, wrote the Heresy of the Ishmaelites, a treatise indicating he saw Islam as an outgrowth of his own religion.</p> <p>More than a year after the release of <em>Muhammad and the Believers</em>, Donner calls reception of his book “fairly positive.” Some peers shake their heads at his conclusions, but others perk up, and Donner says he’s gratified by an enthusiastic, “if mutedly so,” reaction from scholars working in Muslim countries. His view of Islam’s origins is revisionist, but it’s less extreme than some theories over the past 30 years. Donner doesn’t, for example, propose that Muhammad didn’t exist, as theologian Sven Kalisch of the University of Münster did in 2008.</p> <p>Muhammad was a real person, says Donner, who has studied the documents surrounding Islam’s history for more than 25 years, from seventh-century papyri, inscriptions, and coins to later chronicles and books of collected traditions. In 1981 he wrote a history of the early Muslim conquests, and in <em>Narratives of Islamic Origins</em> (Darwin Press, 1998) he studied the development of traditional Muslim sources for Islam’s beginnings.</p> <p>Partly what compels Donner’s revision of the historical record is the scarcity of sources written during and right after Muhammad’s lifetime. The date of the Quran itself is “a subject for debate,” he says, although he believes it was written by the end of the seventh century, within 30 or 40 years of Muhammad’s death. “There’s a serious source problem for anything dealing with early Islam,” Donner says. “This has been known for a long time. The problem is, the sources describing Islam’s origins are mostly written later,” in some cases hundreds of years later. “Actual documentary evidence is sparse, but the bits we have suggest that the traditional narrative isn’t exactly right.”</p> <p>Some evidence is in early Arabic papyri written by Muslims or those in contact with them. Recently Donner has turned fuller attention to the papyri, which date to the period of Muslim rule in Egypt, soon after Islam began. They are “unmediated” sources, he says. “It’s what somebody wrote at that time for a particular purpose: a bill of sale, or a manumission document of a slave, or purchase of a house, or a shopping list, or some narrative that was being told at the time,” he says. “Precious evidence.”</p> <p>Donner tempers his own claims about Islam’s origins, pointing out that sources aren’t entirely clear, so his interpretation remains in some ways hypothetical. “It’ll be interesting to see how things evolve,” he says. “No historical interpretation lasts forever. All you can do is contribute to the conversation and move it along.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/near-eastern-history" hreflang="en">Near Eastern History</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/humanities-division" hreflang="en">Division of the Humanities</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/research" hreflang="en">Research</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/islams-origins" data-a2a-title="Islam’s origins"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fislams-origins&amp;title=Islam%E2%80%99s%20origins"></a></span> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:46:22 +0000 jmiller 394 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Smart doctors https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/smart-doctors <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 10/19/2011 - 14:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Studying paintings has much in common with examining patients, as a Pritzker School of Medicine elective illustrates. (Photo by Jason Smith)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <a href="/author/asher-klein-ab11"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Asher Klein, AB’11</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">July–Aug/11</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A Pritzker School of Medicine course teaches observation skills through the study of art.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The medical students gather around the patient, Mary, as a teacher waits to hear their observations. The students seem reticent, as if they can't tell what's wrong. There's a long pause while Mary, pale and motionless with an orange blanket draped over her white gown, looks up toward the sky.</p> <p>The students could be excused for their hesitation. Mary is the central figure in Giuseppe Marchesi's Baroque painting <em>The Magdalene Attended by two Angels</em> (c. 1740–50), and to them it isn't clear what, if anything, is wrong with the Magdalene.</p> <p>The doctors in training wear street clothes rather than white coats as they tour the Smart Museum's exhibit <em>The Tragic Muse: Art and Education, 1700–1900</em>, on an April afternoon. To diagnose Mary, they use viewfinders—tools that help to isolate parts of an artwork—rather than stethoscopes and tongue depressors. They can't ask for symptoms or the patient's history beyond what Smart Museum director of education Kristy Peterson tells them, which isn't much at first.</p> <p>Perhaps the most difficult part of the exercise is that the students aren't really meant to diagnose Mary's illness. Their task is instead to explain how Mary's expression and other parts of the painting make them feel. "What's interesting to me is—that her eyes and her mouth seem to have different emotions," says one student, breaking the silence. Peterson smiles and invites the others to discuss.</p> <p>The museum visit, part of a new Pritzker School of Medicine spring-quarter elective, <a href="https://duke.bsd.uchicago.edu/PSOMCourseCatalog/browse/ViewCourse.aspx?d=PEDS&amp;n=44000&amp;y=3">Visual Art and Medicine: Using Art to Explore the Practice of Medicine</a>, is designed to enhance observational skills while showing the value of art and humanistic interaction, says fourth-year medical student Laura Hodges, who planned the course with two classmates. "We often find it difficult to look at our patients and really listen to what they are saying ... and you really have to train yourself to be aware of who you are looking at and what you are hearing," says Hodges. "I hope that by doing these observation classes, it will help us to train ourselves to be more focused on the details."</p> <p>What the class discusses at the museum is rarely medical; it's all about affect. As the Smart's Peterson notes, based on texts she's read in both fields, there are similarities between doctors examining patients and art historians studying works of art. "The artistic process is the same as the scientific method, if you really break it down," she says. Physicians use the SOAP documentation system—that's "Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan"—while museum educators sometimes use the "old school" Edmund Burke Feldman approach: "describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate."</p> <p>Peterson separates the students—the class includes 20 in their first, second, and fourth years of medical school—into groups that compile SOAP notes on a painting subject, which they report back to the class. Doctors making a diagnosis have to work faster, Peterson says, but "the art-museum component is helpful because it forces you to do something that you're maybe uncomfortable with and unfamiliar with."</p> <p>When the students meet in a classroom, they discuss their favorite pieces of art on topics such as the body or empathy, and explain why they chose a particular work. For other sessions, they take a sketching class, bring in art they select, and present work they create at home.</p> <p>About seven years ago Joel Schwab, who co-teaches Visual Art and Medicine with Peterson, started taking his pediatrics students to the Smart once a quarter. Hodges visited last year during her pediatrics rotation. When Peterson asked if anyone was interested in expanding the museum visits into a larger course, Hodges volunteered. With a film-production bachelor's degree from NYU, she collaborated with fellow med students Nicole Baltrushes and Celine Goetz, who also have arts backgrounds, and with Jacqueline Hendrickson, MFA'11. The class will continue for at least one more year as Hodges and Baltrushes take an extra year of medical school to finish their courses of study—each took time off to work on personal projects. Hodges hopes it remains after she graduates. The course was awarded an <a href="http://arts.uchicago.edu/arts_science/grantawards.shtml">Arts|Science Graduate Collaboration Grant</a> this year.</p> <p>Back at the Smart, the students relax as they move through the museum, recounting information from readings and a recent lecture on the effect of art on the brain. After working their way through the exhibit, Peterson hands out cards with different instructions: "Pick a piece of art your father would have selected," for example, which went to fourth-year medical student Joseph Tasosa, who is in his psychiatry rotation. He chose a Mark Rothko.</p> <p>Tasosa says the class has shown him things about art he hadn't considered before. "Looking at certain paintings, you try to guess what emotion the artist is trying to compose," he says. "It takes a lot of skill to put something you can't see or touch or feel and have someone say, 'That's anger.'" As someone more familiar with the science of emotion, Tasosa's budding appreciation for how artists work seemed a welcome addition to his education.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/pritzker-school-medicine" hreflang="en">Pritzker School of Medicine</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/smart-doctors" data-a2a-title="Smart doctors"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fsmart-doctors&amp;title=Smart%20doctors"></a></span> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 19:57:53 +0000 jmiller 390 at https://mag.uchicago.edu