The latest episode of Science Goes to the Movies (now debuting new episodes weekly) uses the Showtime series The Knick as a springboard to discuss the sociology of medicine. Sure, the word sociology is never said, but when the program discusses race as a social construct in the first 5 minutes, it’s certainly a theme for this program.
(I will note that there is one picture involving the lack of a nose around Host Faith Salie is not keen on the image, and you might not be either. There are also spoilers for one of the main characters around the 20 minute mark.)
The Knick takes place in New York around the turn of the 20th century and covers the explosion of advances in medicine and medical technology. But this episode does not dwell on this outside of making a comparison with the ways genetic information has affected medicine today. Arguably more time is spent in the episode on how difficult it still is to get medical records online and to share it through up-to-date technology.
But the guest, Dr. Jill Bargonetti, Professor of Biological Sciences at Hunter College, guides the conversation (along with host Dr. Heather Berlin) through many of the ways that bias, ego, prejudice and other human feelings can affect how much research is communicated (or not) and how the outcomes of research can be affected by those sociological phenomena. While you might find Salie’s questions a bit naïve, it can be useful to have a lay person asking questions about things that the two scientists may forget aren’t commonly understood.
Next week Science Goes to the Movies turns to Doctor Who. Besides talking time travel, the episode will explore how a certain race in the show resonates with elements of quantum theory.