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Phrasing the Question Right is the First Step to Find an Answer. How to Prevent Nuclear War

Phrasing the Question Right is the First Step to Find an Answer. How to Prevent Nuclear War

Professor Bernard Lown died this February at 99. A great man by all means: Physician, cardiologist, professor at Harvard University, and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was the inventor of the defribrillator, the proposer of many successful ways to help people suffering from heart failure. He was also the recipient of the Nobel prize for peace for his activity against nuclear war.

 
It was in the 1980s when I attended a seminar in Berkeley given by a member of the group called “International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.” Some decades later, I am not sure the talk was given by the founder of the group, Dr. Bernard Lown, but it may have been him. In any case, I was impressed by the clarity of the talk. The speaker said it very simply: “it is not a question of being left or right: nuclear war is the greatest medical emergency I can imagine.” 
 
It is the way you frame a problem that gives you the tools to solve it! Just like “The Seneca Effect” gives a name to a typical behavior of complex systems, that of collapsing, framing the nuclear confrontation as a medical emergency and not as a political struggle brought it to the realm of concrete problems that people could understand. We might also frame nuclear war as an especially nasty kind of Seneca Cliff affecting humankind and the whole planet.
 
Probably because the problem was framed right, the Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War had a remarkable success…

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