Vol. 9 No. 4
February/March 2007

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Drugs and Money
Pharmaceutical companies, academic medicine, and the flow of funds and favors

Reviewing conflict-of-interest policies

Funds flowing in

"We accept money because we need to do clinical trials, and that's where the rubber meets the road in this conflict-of-interest business."

"I'm not under any illusion that [drug companies] give money for the sake of neuroscience. They won't do a study if the potential is there for the outcome to have a negative impact on marketing."


Bringing the Big Questions to the Community
Re-imagining the Gustafson Seminar

Multiversity or University?
Pursuing competing goods simultaneously

On the failure of roots and the strength of weak ties


Mapping Iraq
The map of Iraq [that is typically used] is very misleading and has done enormous damage to Iraq and U.S. foreign policy in the sense that it gives you the idea that the major ethnic groups of Iraq are somehow compact and separate from one another. The map shows that there is a predominance of the Shiite population in the south, a predominance of Kurds in the far north, and the remaining part is Sunni Arabs in the center west and center north. What it doesn’t show you is that Mosul, which seems to be in the Kurdish region, is actually 80 percent Arab, that about half of Kirkuk is Arab and Turkmen, who are slighted in this map—there are about 800,000 of them—and they’re important geopolitically because of their ties to Turkey. And it doesn’t show you that Baghdad is about 50–50 Sunni and Shiite, and that there at least used to be about a million Sunnis in the south. So the idea that this could be very easily disaggregated and make two countries, it’s not going to work that way.

—Juan R.I. Cole, Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, University of Michigan, from “Shiite Challenges to the al-Maliki Government,” presented at the symposium “The War in Iraq and the Wider Conflict,” November 8, 2006

When brain cells lie
I think the ultimate that we will discover about neurobiology is that brain cells lie to get access to blood sugar. They apply for grants on a speculative basis and say, “I can solve that problem! I don’t know quite what it is, but I’ve got a little chunk of it here and I know that if you just flip me over I can help you solve it. Send blood sugar this way.” And you see the patterns and colors rolling across the brain, especially in the areas of specialization, as all the blood cells, as all the neurological parts of the brain are crying out, “Me, me, me, I can do this, I can do this!” And then there are judgment centers that say, ‘I’m not so sure about that answer over there. That looks a little weird. That whole section over there, I don’t trust it, you know. It’s . . . never given us anything we need.” And then the judgment center above them says, “Well that judgment center is always wrong, so let’s pick out a few of those and give them . . . piecemeal grants—two minutes of blood sugar just to see what they come up with.” And by the time seconds and minutes and hours have passed, the brain does a pretty amazing job of solving a lot of problems. And how is that different from politics? How is it different from running a university? How is it different from crime and solving crime?

—Greg Bear, science fiction author, from “Science, Policy, and Power: Doing Science and Shaping Policy in a Decade of Incredible Change,” Tuesday, September 26, 2006