CHICAGO—The opening sessions of ACEPs past have featured renowned physicians, policy wonks, and the obvious—emergency medicine specialists. But two pals trading parables about the hierarchy of Chicago gangs and the intricacies of building an economy for capuchin monkeys?
Explore This IssueACEP14 Daily News Tuesday: Vol 33 - No10B - October 2014
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the noted authors of international best-seller Freakonomics and its successor SuperFreakonomics, kicked off ACEP14 at McCormick Place West yesterday in their inimitable style: a mix of offbeat research tinged with comedy and economic theory. The pair urged the thousands of emergency physicians who jammed a ballroom to think outside the proverbial box, take educated chances, and ask questions that might seem sophomoric, but may actually be sublime.
“Those ideas that are on the ones which are completely and utterly obvious after the fact but very hard to see before the fact are the greatest ideas,” said Levitt, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory.
The speakers rose to fame in 2005 with the publication of Freakonomics, and followed that up with two successors, but on stage yesterday, they were just two easygoing friends telling stories on how mixing clever thinking and sound research can be quite successful.
“What we all need to do our jobs well, you as much as us, is good data, understanding where the data come from, and understanding how incentives really work,” said Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. “It’s a lot easier said then done. But that, we argue, is kind of the key to figuring out the modern world, our role in it, and how to help ourselves, and therefore help a lot of other people, like you all do every day.”
Nilesh Patel, DO, FAAEM, FACOEP, an associate program director at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, appreciated the speakers’ blend of atypical thinking and solid research. He said it dovetails with the mentality that draws him to the specialty.
“What drives me in emergency medicine is living on the edge a little bit, is taking chances, is using cutting-edge therapies,” Dr. Patel said. “The flip to that is you have to know the science behind that … they hit the nail on the head with that. That’s what we do, that’s what keeps us going.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.