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Alternative Pain Treatments/ History of Games

Date Monday - December 11, 2017
Host George Noory
Guests Dr. David HanscomTristan Donovan

In the first half, Dr. David Hanscom, a leading orthopedic spine surgeon, argued that there are more unnecessary back surgeries being performed by surgeons than ever before. While he believes that surgery and medication have a role, he suggested that these standard courses of treatment aren't what's needed to treat chronic pain. The medical world, he continued, is overlooking the fact that in order to relieve pain, the person must get to the root of their pain – anxiety – and the amped up nervous system that accompanies it.

In most cases, he said, back and neck surgeries create more pain and problems for patients because a person's nervous system must be calmed down in order to live pain-free. "You have to train your brain to not react to stress with an adrenaline-response," he explained. Hanscom also talked about the opioid crisis, which he believes is being driven by medicine's inability to treat chronic pain. Mental pain, he posited, is much more problematic than physical pain. By calming down and re-routing the nervous system, he reports that the anxiety or mental pain drops dramatically and reduces the need for medications. He also detailed the rising problem of spine infections associated with IV drug use such as heroin.


In the second half, British journalist and games expert, Tristan Donovan, discussed the fascinating history and psychology of board games. He traced the evolution of games across cultures and time periods, to their scientific use today teaching artificial intelligence how to adapt. Board games date back to ancient Egypt with the game Senet, while chess was first created in India, as more of a game of chance with dice dictating moves. The Hindus, he noted, objected to the gambling aspect of the game, so it evolved into a demonstration of skill and strategy, with the individual player determining their moves. As the game moved west, new ideas were added like check and checkmate (Persia), and chess pieces such as the queen were introduced in Europe.

Interestingly, when Monopoly was first introduced, Donovan reported, it was called "The Landlord's Game," and was meant to demonstrate the wrongness of profiteering at the expense of others, and how only one person succeeded and everyone else was driven bankrupt. He also detailed the rise of Backgammon in the 1970s, and how it became a betting game for the rich and famous, as well as the new wave of board games such as the German-styled Settlers of Catan, and Pandemic, which share a more cooperative aspect.

News segment guests: Howard Bloom, Lauren Weinstein, Steve Kates

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Bumper music from Monday December 11, 2017

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