Life as an Extreme Sport


And speaking of politicians, I spent a good chunk of my morning actually interacting with local politicians, including (ever so briefly) the senior senator from New York. But the vast majority was spent talking to local legislators, and it was an interesting experience. I’ve never before had someone look at me like they just wanted to devour my brain, and thought that if they did so, they’d know everything I do.

The initial conversation was struck over my textbook, but when they found out I study bioethics, their ears literally perked up – a complete change in body language, and I found myself fielding questions about stem cell research and policies, cloning, the differences between different kinds of stem cells, the problem with putting faith in amniotic fluid stem cells, and on. We even discussed the problems with promoting universal health care for a while.

After a bit, one of the gentlemen, who turned out to be another’s campaign manager, asked me if I’d thought I’d be going to a job interview when I got out of bed this morning. I asked him why he thought that I was interviewing for anything, and he told me it was because they were starting their groundwork for a presidential run in either 2012 or 2016 (which sent us off on an interesting historical deviation on beating incumbents), and they needed a savvy bioethicist on staff , and they thought I was perfect for the job. Ballsy, well-spoken, and able to explain complicated and controversial subjects in a manner that made sense and seemed to remove some of the controversy.

Flattery will always get you everywhere.

It was an interesting experience, and highlighted to me, not just the need to invest in business cards, but that I should definitely focus more on educating myself about politics in general. I have no intention of being “just” an academic, off in an institution teaching undergraduates basic ethical theory, and have every intent of actively peddling my trade (as it were) in the public sphere. And in my case, this does likely mean an involvement in politics. It seems that, much like the more you know about journalism the easier it ought to be to deal with the media, the more one knows about politics the easier it ought to be to work with politicians. Let’s see if that theory is correct, eh?


  1. Congrats! Business cards are key. I’m not much for politics, but given that my job is literally funded by a legislative grant, much of what we do involves servicing the legislature’s needs and questions on health policy and bioethics. And actually, that aspect of the job is kind of exciting.

  2. What a great experience! I wonder how many legislators actually employ the services of bioethicists – either directly as you report or via a common resource as the previous comment describes. My impression is that they depend on expert testimony and consultations with academics via their policy staff, most of the time.

Comments are closed.