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Science Cabaret to feature faculty speakers

The Science Cabaret meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Violet Room at the Lost Dog Café, 222 Water St., Binghamton. The doors open at 6 p.m. for drinking, dining and socializing before the event.

The Science Cabaret provides an evening of intellectual stimulation in an informal café setting. Scientists from all subject areas describe their work in terms that anyone can understand, with plenty of opportunity for questions from the audience.

In February, the cabaret will be held on Thursday, Feb. 7, rather than on the usual Tuesday.

Pamela Mischen, assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration, will speak on “Connecting the Dots: Understanding How and Why We Are Interconnected.”

Social network theory is a scientific method for studying human relationships at a variety of scales, from informal friendships to business relationships to relationships among organizations. Mischen will explain how social network theory can help us understand how we share information with each other, who we trust and with whom we are willing to cooperate — in general and in Binghamton.

Mischen is director of the Center for Applied Community Research and Development, which is in the new University Downtown Center.

The next cabaret will be held March 4.

Kenneth McLeod, chair of the Bioengineering Department, will speak on “Where Medicine Went Wrong.”

We have all been raised in a culture where we prefer simple, direct answers to a question. When we are sick, we want to know why we are sick. In this context, it is not surprising that Western medical schools have taught physicians to think in terms of cause and effect. In the absence of a simple cause (for example, a bacterial infection) this philosophical approach has led to the view that the symptoms of a disease are the cause, and corresponding, we treat the symptoms. If your blood pressure is high, we lower your blood pressure; if your cholesterol level is high, we lower your cholesterol.

In the past, this approach was not a serious concern as most health conditions of interest were simple; they had a clear, direct cause. In the 21st century, health-care concerns are dominated by conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and obesity. The "simple disease" approach has led to enormous expenditures on health care in America, with remarkably little benefit. McLeod will discuss the extent to which alternative approaches to health care in America could be pursued.

McLeod, director of the Clinical Science and Engineering Research Center, is actively involved in the economic redevelopment of Greater Binghamton.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08