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Insert Comma • A Portfolio of Leigh E. Rich
Categories: Books, Editorials, Ethics, Health, Media, Politics, Science, Social Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Prestidigitation vs. public trust

Or how we can learn to change the conversation and prevent powers from “organizing the discontent” By Leigh E. Rich When Drs. Silvia Camporesi, Mark Davis, and Maria Vaccarella (2017) approached the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry about a symposium on “Public Trust in Expert Knowledge” as well as a panel session at the October 2016 […]

Categories: Books, Ethics, Media, Philosophy, Science, Television, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on “Hannibal” and the horrors of hyper-rationality

A common theme in detective stories is the introduction of an archenemy—often a serial killer who rivals the protagonist in intelligence and cunning but clearly lacks a moral center. This “two sides of the same coin” trope heightens the suspense in the storyline not only because the hero and the villain stand toe-to-toe (or brain-to-brain), especially in the final face-off, but also because the constructed symmetry suggests that there is but a fragile line between “genius” and “evil genius.” In the television series Hannibal, FBI consultant Will Graham and the cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter seem on the surface to fit these roles. Upon closer inspection, however, the two characters share little in common: While the latter is a medically-trained psychopath, impeccably poised but devoid of compassion, the former’s talent for catching killers stems from his “remarkably vivid imagination” and rare capacity for “[p]ure empathy.” This empathetic understanding, a combination of rational and emotive deduction, enables Graham to “see” what the FBI’s behavioral and forensic scientists cannot: a contextualized and embodied view of another’s actions rather than a reconstructed and technologized myopia of the “evidence that counts.” Interestingly, it also allows him to recognize each killer as human, not as some wholly distinct and monstrous “other.” In this way, it is instead the members of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit—inculcated with a “professional distance” that tends to transform all subjects into objects—that are “just like” Lecter. Thus, rather than merely another round of rivalry between hero and antihero, Hannibal calls into question the “objective distance” of professionalism and emphasizes that “genius” (revelation) is rooted not just in reason but also in emotional and subjective experience, exploring cultural fears of the fuzzy postmodern constructions of science and the self. While empathy poses certain real risks (from which Will Graham and the rest of us are not immune), Graham’s character and the Hannibal television program suggest that, rather than undermining understandings of the world or ourselves, an empathetic approach to discovery is more authentic and ethical because it leads to greater recognition of oneself and others—and who we are in relation with others (identity as co-constructed)—as well as greater capacity to take responsibility for our actions.

Categories: Art, Editorials, Ethics, Film, Health, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Art, (in)visibility, and Ebola

“What are the consequences of a digitally-created society in the psyche of the global community?” By Leigh E. Rich, Michael A. Ashby, and David M. Shaw [V]isibility is central to the shaping of political, medical, and socioeconomic decisions. Who will be treated—how and where—are the central questions whose answers are often entwined with issues of […]

Categories: Ethics, Feminism, Film, Law, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on ‘Eggsploitation’

Oocyte (egg) donation is riddled with issues that have few, if any, solutions By Leigh E. Rich In one sense, so-called “third-party reproduction” that uses gametes contributed by anonymous (or known) “donors” is no longer novel (Murphy 2009; Sargent 2007; Sauer 2001; Mastroianni 2001), but the highly profitable IVF industry (now sometimes called “ART” for “artificial reproductive techniques”) is still in […]

Categories: Editorials, Ethics, Health, Law, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Rethinking the body and its boundaries

Editorial for the 9(1) issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry By Leigh E. Rich, Michael A. Ashby, and Pierre-Olivier Méthot Until recently, the idea that the nature of the body is a contested matter may have seemed to many people, whether inside or beyond the ivory tower, as but another sign of the silliness […]

Categories: Books, Science, Social Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on The elusive but useful epidemic

Does the ‘preparedness industry’ predict calamity or promote the illusion of a ‘risk-free’ life? By Leigh E. Rich Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics From the Black Death to Avian Flu By Philip Alcabes Public Affairs April 2009 336 pages When it comes to many of today’s epidemics, perhaps, as FDR warned during […]

Categories: Books, People, Science, Social Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Prepared or panicked?

Epidemics and the concept of ‘Dread’ with author Philip Alcabes By Leigh E. Rich In the mid-1300s, the “Great Mortality” decimated nearly one-third of Europe’s population. One of every three or four individuals was stricken with the “pestilence,” a mysterious illness that began with a headache, fever and swollen lymph glands—around which red spots on […]

Categories: Editorials, Film, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Aliens and archaeology

The latest in the Indiana Jones series unearths conspiracy theories By Leigh E. Rich “Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination.” — Edward Abbey Sometimes I feel like a humorless Jerry Seinfeld, asking a not-nearly-drunk-enough crowd “What is with the” dot dot dot. There is enough in this world to give one […]

Categories: Fiction & Poetry, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on I Am Bic

Would  I  were  a  king       or  a  crazy  beatnik       writing  poetry  or  prose  that  never                     rhymes       and  that  would  be  okay for  the  world  yearns  to  spin               but  never  […]

Categories: Books, Health, History, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on Slow death of a monster

Arizona author documents historical battle By Leigh E. Rich The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox By Jennifer Lee Carrell Dutton June 2003 451 pages $24.95 Today, 23 years after the World Health Organization confirmed the worldwide eradication of smallpox, there are only two places one might bump into the Variola virus that […]

Categories: Books, Health, Religion, Science | Comments Off on Enlightenment through immunology

An interdisciplinary romp with a professor of pathology By Leigh E. Rich Faith, Madness and Spontaneous Human Combustion: What Immunology Can Teach Us About Self-Perception By Gerald N. Callahan, Ph.D. A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Press January 2002 256 pages $23.95 Who came first, the pathologist or the poet? The world may never […]

Categories: Books, Science, Utrinque Paratus | Comments Off on ‘Craniac’ stalls in mid-flight

Book takes long look at endangered cranes By Leigh E. Rich The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes By Peter Matthiessen, with Paintings and Drawings by Robert Bateman North Point Press December 2001 352 pages, 16 pages of color illustrations $27.00 In the same year Colorado, the “centennial” state, became the 38th addition to this […]