The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

May 4, 2010 9:22 am

Medicine, like so many other features of modern life, has become exceedingly complex. This has far-reaching implications, not only for how we understand the world but also how we most effectively meet challenges such as those encountered in a field like medicine. Any attempt to respond to complexity will be necessarily multifaceted. One potentially effective tool is deceptively simple: a checklist. This is Dr. Atul Gawande’s thesis in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. The very idea left me wondering if the book would be worth reading. After all, how can checklists help a hospital overwhelmed with desperately sick patients? How can a checklist help a surgeon when performing a delicate surgery?

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The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

March 16, 2010 12:00 am

Wade Davis’s remarkable book,The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, is meant, in part, to debunk the antiquated theories of European anthropologists that turned their science into an agent of control over different peoples. Although such theories may seem like relics of Europe’s imperial past, Davis fears their ongoing resonance. Should we not simply allow the accelerated loss of languages that is occurring today? Is this not incontrovertible proof that more dominant cultures are in fact superior to those threatened with extinction? The answer to both questions is an emphatic no, according to Davis.

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