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Procrastinate, Doximity, Torture

The Morning Show
  • Jan 6, 2015
  • 01:41:01
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PERMISSION TO PROCRASTINATE  You have a deadline looming. And instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things, like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing until it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.  But according to Rory Vaden (author of best-seller “Take the Stairs”) we might be looking at this phenomenon all the wrong way. Vaden’s new book, “Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time” explains “how to multiple your time.”  One of the five strategies for creating more time is to “procrastinate on purpose,” explains Vaden. “Sometimes waiting is bad, but sometimes patience is a virtue. Scheduling is an example of waiting.”  Doing something early means there’s a possibility you’ll have to re-do it or re-work it in the future (ie. booking a flight early and later having to adjust it, at a cost), adds Vaden. “There’s a cost of being too early that no one ever thinks about. You underutilize your most valuable asset, which is time.”  “The way you multiple your time is give yourself permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow,” says Vaden. “It may not be the most important or pressing thing you do today, but it frees up time for more important things tomorrow. It’s about proactively using your time to create something new in the future that wouldn’t be there otherwise.”  Vaden’s book is sometimes referred to as “the emotional side of time management.” “It’s not about checklists,” it’s about tackling the emotions of procrastination, “giving ourselves permission to say no to things that don’t matter.”  When considering task priority, “time multipliers” ask themselves: Can I eliminate it? Can I automate it? Can I delegate it?  If the answer to all three is “No” then ask, “Must it be done now, or can it wait?” If it must be done now, then you concentrate on it. If it can wait, then that’s the opportunity to “procrastinate on purpose.” (When the task comes back up on your list, you put it through the same series of questions until you either complete it or eliminate it from your list entirely.)  SOCIAL NETWORK FOR DOCTORS Say you’re a doctor and a patient comes to you with an ailment you’ve never seen before. You might scan the medical journals or ring up a colleague at another hospital. But imagine you could quickly pose the question on a site like Facebook and get input from hundreds of thousands of doctors around the country?  Social media targeted at the medical community could be a boon for difficult diagnoses.  Now, if you’re that doctor’s patient you may be worried about your private details getting out into public. Or, you may just be glad your doctor was able to so easily tap the knowledge of a broader medical community in treating you.  This is the possibility – and the potential quagmire – of Doximity, a social network for doctors, used now by over half of all physicians in America.  Doximity’s Vice President of Connectivity Solutions Peter Alperin (a practicing physician at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco) compares the service to Linked In. It’s a professional network for doctors only, completely private and completely “HIPPA” secure, complying with patient privacy laws.  Alperin says doctors preserve patient privacy by speaking only in generalities on Doximity, unless the patient has given permission for his or her information to be shared with other physicians.  “One of the most powerful things about Doximity is that all the users are verified physicians,” says Alperin. The company has full-time staff working to verify the veracity of the information doctors provide when they sign up for the service.  “We’ve effectively doubled our membership over the past year,” notes Alperin.  Doximity also has a “news” feature that feeds the latest medical journal articles to doctors. “It’s one of our most popular features – doctors like it a lot because it allows them to subscribe to journals they’re following and our algorithm pays attention to what they’re reading and sends them more information like that,” says Alperin. “It also allows them to read articles on their mobile devices in short pockets of time, as they’re heading into a consultation or meeting.”   EXPLAINING CONFLICT BETWEEN KENYA AND SOMALIA  Let’s take a moment now to get some context on a conflict in Africa that flashes in the headlines from time to time. You’ll perhaps recognize the name “Al-Shabab.” It’s a Somali extremist group that has, for several years, been behind attacks inside neighboring Kenya. The most well-known to Westerners was probably the 2013 attack by Al-Shabab on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. More than 60 people died in that attack.  Conflicts like these involving Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Africa are often chalked up to religious tension. And while it’s true that Al-Shabab espouses radical views of Islam – and that Somalia is predominantly Muslim, while Kenya is majority Christian, the conflict between the two nations goes deeper than views about God.  The tension goes back to colonial days, says BYU professor Peter Leman. Somalis are the largest single ethnic group in Africa, but they’ve been broken up by neighboring countries over the years. “When the British declared Kenya a colony, it took a chunk of Somalia, as well.”  “Al-Shabab’s attacks are inexcusable, but there’s an important context – a back and forth between Somalia and Kenay,” says Leman. Several years ago, Kenya embarked on an operation to push back in Somalia against some kidnappings and other border attacks. They took a port city and took profits from local businesses and “hasn’t won favor with the local community in Somalia.”  Leman says Al-Shabab declared the Westgate Mall attack retaliation for Kenya’s operation in Somalia. Kenya has since been making incursions into Somalia, raiding mosques looking for members of Al-Shabab. Meanwhile, Al-Shabab continues its attacks in Kenya.  “It’s move and countermove, attack and reprisal – this isn’t just radical Islam mindlessly attacking,” says Leman.   While Al-Shabab began as a nationalist group focused on aimed at protecting Somalia’s borders and reclaiming land from Kenya, Leman says the group has attracted the support of foreign jihadists, creating internal tension and a 2013 leadership schism.  GETTING CALORICALLY BALANCED  If you made a New Year’s Resolution this year, there’s a good chance it involved losing weight. Seventy-percent of the adult population in the U.S. is overweight or obese, says BYU exercise science professor Ron Hager.  “Caloric – or energy - balance” is the key to maintaining a healthy weight, adds Hager. “there’s only two parts to it, like a teeter-totter. On one side is the energy you take in through what you consume. On the other side is what you expend - where do those calories go?”  “If you take in more than you expend, something’s gotta give,” says Hager. “This is a super simple explanation for weight loss, weight gain and weigh maintenance, but it doesn’t do justice to the complexity people experience with weight.”  Not all calories are created equal, adds Hager. A bowl of broccoli has more to offer your body in the way of nutrients than a bowl of fudge.  Another thing to keep in mind – calories taken in slowly over long periods of time can have a cumulative effect of “creeping obesity,” says Hager. “An extra 96 calories a day adds up to an extra ten pounds over the course of a year.”  TORTURE’S PSYCHOLOGICAL TOLL  In the years after 9/11, the CIA used a variety of interrogation methods it called “enhanced,” but President Obama and others now define plainly as “torture.”  Waterboarding people to the point of unresponsiveness; rectal feeding and extensive use of something called “stress positions” are just some of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” documented in recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. While some defend the practices as having yielded important information that kept the nation safe from attack, it’s clear the United States has walked a very fine line.  It’s a line that doesn’t make much difference from the perspective of the person being interrogated. Research published back in 2007 surveyed several hundred people who were captured and tortured during conflict in former Yugoslavian countries. Metin Basoglu of the Istanbul Center for Behavior Research and Therapy in Turkey led that study, which compared the psychological effects of torture and less-egregious treatment.  “We found no distinction,” says Basoglu. Noting the data applied to many of the techniques reported in the CIA Torture Report from the Senate intelligence Committee. “PTSD and Depression are the most common outcomes of torture and we found there was no difference between physical torture and treatment considered ‘cruel, unusual or inhuman.’”  PTSD and depression have severe consequences, adds Basoglu. “If international law defines torture as acts that cause severe mental pain or suffering, and if scientific evidence shows the whole range of ill-treatment causes PTSD and depression, then the whole range should be defined as torture.”  BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON TORTURE  Research has shed clear light on the effects of torture, but the question of whether or not it’s an effective way to extract information from a detainee is thorny. Numerous former CIA directors say their “enhanced interrogation tactics,” such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation, led to valuable information that saved American lives. Many psychologists and veteran interrogators say just the opposite is true; that torturing someone is a sure fire way to get a false confession because the detainee will say anything to make it stop.  In fact, the harsh tactics described in the Senate Intelligence Report and used by the United States in the tense years following the 9/11 attacks have an ironic origin: They were not created to obtain good, reliable information from a detainee. They were actually developed to elicit false confessions that could be used as propaganda against the United States.  So when Colonel Steve Kleinman – a veteran interrogator – arrived in Iraq in 2003, and saw these techniques being used, he says “I was absolutely shocked – and I was shocked by the disconnect.”  The disconnect goes back to a program called SERE, which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. After the Korean War, the U.S. invested a lot of money and resources into figuring out why its POW’s had capitulated and made false statements that were used as propaganda. “There was the concern, how is this happening? How are they causing our well-trained soldiers to produce propaganda?” says Kleinman.  The SERE program exposed soldiers to forms of torture in a “controlled” environment that’s “intense, but not the same as people put in CIA black sites with no idea if they’ll ever be released, if the torture would ever stop. As intense as a weeklong training course is, it pales in comparison.”  So yes, Kleinman was shocked to see those techniques being used in US military interrogations by people who had been through the SERE program. “As an interrogator, I want no part of techniques that were designed to illicit false confessions and propaganda,” continues Kleinman. “Someone who is being tortured – their psycho-physical ability to recall information is severely undermined.”  “The single point of failure in this whole process was the lack of expertise about interrogation at the senior levels” in the aftermath of 9/11. “It was an immature and unsophisticated understanding of what interrogation is all about,” adds Kleinman.  U.S. officials have said “we were desperate” at the time. But, I say, “we had a choice between getting smarter and getting tougher, and we chose tougher,” says Kleinman.  “I think people should be up in arms, saying, ‘You did this in our name?’” says Kleinman. “It was an amateur hour of the first order.”  Effective interrogation is based on building rapport and having empathy, says Kleinman. Using physical or psychological pressure has been proven to degrade a person’s ability to recall accurate information. “Memory is the most important element that always must be preserved.”  Hollywood gets interrogation wrong, but Kleinman doesn’t blame the filmmakers. “Responsibility lies with the US government for letting it get to the point where you had interrogators that were more informed by the TV show ‘24’ than by their interrogation training,” says Kleinman. “If policy makers think they should use information drawn from television shows about interrogation, then next time they need major thoracic surgery they should call Alan Alda (from TV’s ‘MASH’), because they’ll get the snappy repartee with it.”  “Part of interrogation includes the realization that not everyone can be compelled to share information. There’s no silver bullet, break the glass, fire alarm goes off, now we’re going to use torture. Torture is not a reliable way to consistently get information under any circumstance. It’s not a shortcut. It simply degrades everybody, including the detainee and perhaps more so the nation that uses it.”  Kleinman maintains “national security professionals should have something akin to their own Hippocratic Oath. Rather than ‘First, do no harm,’ it should be ‘First, create no new enemies.’  The information we get from torturing someone better be so valuable that it can outlast the negative strategic consequences that literally last generations.” Show More...

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