Sammy Greene learns to argue better (she hopes)

As many of you know from reading about me in Dead Air and Devil Wind, I graduated college a few years ago and have been working in Los Angeles at a small progressive talk radio station. To me this is an ideal forum for public dialogue and a vehicle for change. But it can be frustrating when I can’t get through to some of the people who call into my show Sammy Greene on the LA Scene.

Recently I started hearing about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – free university level courses taught by the best professors from the best schools. As  someone who considers herself a lifelong learner, I decided to check out one recommended to me called Coursera.org. I signed up for a course in critical thinking called Think Again: How to Reason and Argue jointly taught by Duke (Walter Sinnot-Armstrong) and UNC (Ram Netta).

I have to say- not only are both profs entertaining, they have really educated me about the power of critical thinking. And they’ve taught me to understand that you can present an argument for which every premise if absolutely true and in which every conceivable flaw in your argument can be negated and still not persuade everyone in the audience. Unfortunately, there are those (not among most of my listeners, thank goodness) who either misunderstand the argument presented or just blindly choose to believe the opposite of a premise in the face of facts.

As one of the students taking the course wrote in a discussion forum: “Human beings are not always logical. They don’t always believe scientifically proven cause and effect. Religious and cultural beliefs can be too hard to overcome. Even the best arguments have disbelievers.”

I get it now. A valid, strong and sound argument in and of itself may never persuade or convert someone to adopt a different way of thinking.

What a strong argument should do is communicate a point of view clearly and logically, providing reasons (evidence) to support the conclusion (s).

We all need to be more open-minded.

Anyone who blindly refutes an idea is not engaging in an intellectually honest exchange (you know who you are).

By taking this course, I’m learning to construct better, more thoughtful arguments. I know not everyone is going to  agree with me, but I hope they will be willing to hear and consider what I have to say. And I am listening much more intently to others views.

So thank you, Drs. Sinnott-Armstrong and Neta. For those of you, interested in this course, I hope it will be taught again. Look for it!!

– Sammy

In the last few years several big pharmaceutical companies have paid huge fines (literally billions of $) for failing to disclose the potential dangers of some of their drugs. This time it’s J&J and their antipsychotic Risperidol. Last November it was GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia. I remember how in 2007, Congressman Darryl Issa tried to intimidate the cardiologist whistleblower who reported the heart damage some of his patients had experienced after taking the pill. Issa asked the doctor if he knew how much his “accusations” had cost the stock price!

In the novel “Dead Air”, an unethical pharmaceutical company continues a vaccine study using students at my fictional university knowing it was literally killing the subjects. Just like these real pharma companies, the fictional Nitshi Corporation put profits before people. Several reviewers have called the book “eerily timely”. Frankly, I wish it was just a good thriller. Here’s today piece in the New York Times

Sammy

“Dead Air” wins another award!

What a way to end the year! Another award for “Dead Air”. The book won Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival. 

More congratulations to my creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid. Hope all of you who have a Kindle downloaded the book for free. The offer ends at midnight December 31st.

Happy New Year!!

-Sammy

“Dead Air” bioweapons premise is a frightening reality

Today the New York Times reported that a virologist in Rotterdam (Ron Fouchier) was able to  genetically tweak one of the deadliest flu viruses to create an airborne version in the lab with surprising ease . My first “adventure” in the novel “Dead Air” by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid involved a foreign pharmaceutical company altering the AIDS virus. Ironically, that’s the virus Fouchier had originally studied. However, after switching  to the H5N1 virus, a type of bird flu, he was able to alter the genetics with only a few mutations and transform it into a supergerm that could cause a deadly pandemic if ever released. This has renewed debate about the ethics of some kinds of medical experiments. The Dutch government and the US CDC approved the laboratory and the NIH gave the center where the work was done a 7 year contract for the flu research. Now the government is recommending that Fouchier not publish any details of his work that could reveal how it was accomplished.

My question: is the cat out of the bag? What do you think? Let me know. I welcome your comments. In the meantime, “Dead Air” is still FREE as a Kindle download until the end of December, 2011.

-Sammy

Sammy Greene series adds Mensa award to long list of prizes!

This has been a wonderful year for both Sammy Greene thrillers! The first in the series, “Dead Air” just recently won First Place in the Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association, First Place USA Best Books (thriller), and the Silver Medal President’s Award from the Florida Publisher’s Association. It also won an IPPY Award from Independent Publishers. “Devil Wind”, the second the the series just became a finalist for the Mensa Sharp Writ Award. It  also won First Place in the Royal Palm Literary Award, was a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and won First Place for the Audiobook version from the Hollywood Book Festival.

My creators (Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid)  are very grateful for these accolades. Me? I’m delighted, of course. But I’m not surprised. Deborah and Linda made my adventures the kind of page turners that keep readers up at night. If you don’t believe me, buy the books and drop me a note. Oh and BTW, “Dead Air” is FREE on Kindle until the end of December. Great Hanukah or Christmas gift!

Enjoy!

-Sammy

Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid wins 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award!

Congrats to my creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid for another great win. Last year the team’s novel Dead Air won First Place, Best Thriller for the Royal Palm Literary award sponsored by the Florida Writers Association. Now the second in the Sammy Greene series, Devil Wind, has won the 2011 Royal Palm Literary award for Best Thriller. Way to go, guys!

So for those of you who haven’t read book #1 (Dead Air) or book #2 (Devil Wind), you’re in for a treat. And of course, I’m the star of both stories.

Thanks!

-Sammy

RPLA

Book Clubs: 5 more days to win free books

Check out this month’s newsletter from ShlianBooks. Book clubs interested in reading “Rabbit in the Moon”, “Wednesday’s Child” or “Double Illusion” by Deborah and Joel Shlian or one of the two Sammy Greene novels (“Dead Air” or “Devil Wind” by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid) can win free books for their book clubs as well as an appearance by the authors via Skype (a personal appearance if in the South Florida region). Just click on this LINK and enter the contest!!! And while you’re at it, sign up for the newsletter. There are contests almost every month.

Sammy

“Dead Air” by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid may be fiction, but it’s “dead on”

The authors of “Dead Air, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, wrote the thriller as a cautionary tale. As medical research has become more and more competitive, with funding often only availabe from corporate sources with profit motives, conflicts of interest are a real issue – one that literally costs human subjects and, ultimately, patients taking a drug that should not have been approved, their lives. ThisWall Street Journal article details the growing number of real life examples of poor medical research coming out of ostensibly prestigious institutions and published in widely-respected medical journals. This is becoming a serious problem that doesn’t normally get much press. Read the article, then read the book. “Dead Air” may be fiction, but as far as a premise, it’s really dead on!!

– Sammy

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid, winner of Royal Palm Literary Award

Why medical research needs better oversight

Just as in the novel Dead Air, written by my creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, this op ed piece points out the dangers of inadequately monitored medical research.Carl Elliott, who teaches bioethics at the University of Minnesota, talks about “seeding trials” in which a pharmaceutical company tries to promote a new drug to physicians in the guise of a research study. In point of fact, these are really marketing strategies- not well designed clinical research protocols.Because the drugs have already been approved by the FDA, the “trials” are not considered illegal and are not reviewed by the agency. So when bad things happen to the subjects, as it has with several drugs cited by Elliott, that information may take years to reach the public- if ever- since there is no requirement that the pharmaceutical company report any problems.

Bottom line: Given the fact that the government won’t regulate as it should, my advice is this: be very, very careful before you volunteer for a study that is conducted by a private company. The characters in the fictional medical thriller, Dead Air didn’t and look what happened to them. It’s no joke.

Take care!

Sammy

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid

Authors Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid on the Chick Lit Show from Australia!

Hi fans! My creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid appear on Sylvia Massara’s Chick Lit show which hails from Australia. It seems that folks down under are reading about me!

Stop by, watch and post a comment. Thanks

Chick Lit show

Sammy

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