I am a physician and behavioral scientist. My research and writing explores the quirks in human nature that influence our lives — the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect our health, our happiness and the way our society functions. (What fun would it be to tackle just the easy problems?) My goal is to show you, in an entertaining way, why the key to living better, healthier lives, and improving the societies we live in, is to understand human nature.
I’m also a Professor of Business, Public Policy and Medicine at Duke University. (Officially, I’m the – prepare to be impressed – Madge and Dennis T. McLawhorn University Professor of Business at Fuqua.) My research explores controversial issues about the role of values and preferences in health care decision making, from decisions at the bedside to policy decisions. I use the tools of decision psychology and behavioral economics to explore topics like informed consent, shared decision making and health care rationing.
I grew up in Minnesota where I attended an all boys, Roman Catholic, military high school – a definite triple whammy for a horny teenager. Then when I submitted my high school photograph to my undergraduate college, Carleton, and it got posted in the annual book of new students, my classmates decided I was some kind of militaristic, fascist something or other. So there I was, at a decidedly unCatholic, non-military, co-ed college and I could already tell that I was going to be shunned. Sigh…
In my spare time, I enjoy classical piano (fanatical about Beethoven and Chopin), chili peppers, and playing sports with my 2 young sons. At the dinner table, my wife, my kids, and I can be counted on to be playing cards most nights. We play Euchre as homage to our time in Michigan. Hearts, because that’s always fun. And less familiar games like President and 29.
But most of all, we love bridge, the greatest card game ever invented. (with apologies to poker fans—that’s a great game too, but I stink at it so much I couldn’t put it in the number 1 spot—and additional apologies to my wife Paula, who as much as she likes bridge, hates playing in no trump!)
I blog about a wide range of topics, but usually ones that touch upon either health care, ethics or politics. Speaking of politics, I consider myself to be a flaming moderate, and in my research and writing I try to elucidate the way our political views are biased by our preconceptions.
I’m not the handsomest guy in the world, but this picture looks bad even for me! See why I’m including it here. And although I am proud of my family and all its accomplishments, I try not to get carried away, as you’ll see from my 2013 family newsletter.
I enjoy spirited debate but detest acrimonious name-calling. So when I get nasty-grams in response to my work, I absorb what people say, but refuse to reply in kind.
Oh yeah: and basketball is my favorite sport to coach. But I could never do it for a living: as my wife Paula will confirm, it gets me too worked up: strategizing, planning the next practice, figuring out how to maximize my players’ potential!