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Perceptions & Healthcare

Date: 08-06-09
Host: George Noory
Guests: David Eagleman, Dr. John Abramson

During the first half of the show, head of the Lab for Perception and Action at Baylor College, Dr. David Eagleman talked about how he's reshaped the debate of creationists vs. evolutionists with a third option called "possibilians." This new option allows for holding multiple hypotheses, as it doesn't necessarily make sense to commit to just one story, he explained.

Most religions were based on the limited understanding of their time, and with the scientific knowledge that we have today, we can be open to other possibilities, he added. He has explored such ideas in his work of literary fiction, Sum, which offers forty mutually exclusive stories, each of which proposes a different reason for our existence and the meaning of God, life, and death.

Eagleman also talked about his work studying perception, and synesthesia, a condition in which people experience a mixing of the senses, such as hearing colors or seeing music. Synesthesia is more common in the population than was previously thought, and may actually offer some advantages such as improved memory, he detailed. A person's perceptions can influence the way they experience time, he noted, citing his experiment for the Discovery Channel in which people had a slowed down sense of time when they were feeling extreme fear.

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In the latter half of the program, Dr. John Abramson discussed healthcare reform. One of the main problems with healthcare in the U.S. is that it is among the most costly in the industrialized world, yet Americans rank poorly compared to other countries in overall health-- so we are not getting a good value for our money, he said.

One of the good things about the proposed new legislation for America is that people with pre-existing conditions will be able to get coverage, he opined. But as much as one third of healthcare treatments offered in the U.S. are either needless or harmful, so if we're going to put more resources into the system, we want to make sure we're not throwing good money after the bad, he commented.

As a way to fix the system, Abramson stressed that medical knowledge be an accurate representation of research, aside from commercial concerns and pressures, such as exerted by pharmaceutical companies.

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