Book questions from The book Ghost Map

Book Discussion – The Ghost Map

She reads the whole book for free on youtube

Questions to answer 1+ paragraph each:
1. Relate some of the barriers (bias) to decision making presented in class to the stakeholders in The Ghost Map (for example, anchoring, availability heuristic, stereotyping). Stakeholders are anyone that has an interest in the suppression of cholera.
2. Johnson writes about the pervasiveness of the miasma theory, emphasizing that even some of the most brilliant medical minds rejected the notion of waterborne contagions despite evidence to the contrary. What were some of the factors that contributed to this massive mental block?
3. As discussed in class, this book may be difficult to relate to modern information technology problem solving. How would you say the problem solving strategies used in the book are universal or not applicable? Please explain.
4. Based upon your experience in class related to temperament, personality and culture how would emotional intelligence enable an interviewer to conduct effective interviews?
5. During the outbreak, the London Times and Morning Chronicle were filled with a plethora of dubious remedies from a variety of unqualified sources. Compare the Internet of today with the London Times of 1854. Has information improved such that the average citizen can distinguish trustworthy advice from chicanery on the Web?
6. Johnson draws our attention to the fact that Whitehead was relegated to the role of Snow’s apprentice by popular Victorian literature. Johnson’s own opinion is that Whitehead’s “engaged amateurism” was so important as to make his role virtually equal to that of Snow’s in solving the mystery of cholera. What is your assessment?
7. What value do you perceive in using cross-discipline thinking? Relate to the events in The Ghost Map. Relate to your own efforts in problem solving.
8. Compare the concepts of amateurism, cross-disciplinary thinking, and local knowledge to the use of crowdsourcing in problem solving.
9. We are used to seeing the medical community clash with religious leaders on issues from genetic research to euthanasia. Is partnership on some level between the medical and religious communities sometimes necessary for progress today, as it was in Snow’s and Whitehead’s time?
10. What is the likelihood that a widespread event like the cholera outbreak could happen in North America today? Where might it start, and what conditions would need to exist?
11. Since the earthquake in 2010, Haiti has been experiencing the worst outbreak of cholera in recent history. How does Johnson’s history in The Ghost Map help us understand this current epidemic and help us resolve it?
12. What is the next cholera-like disease, and what are we doing about it?
13. Johnson says that cities without clean water are a very severe problem in the world- perhaps the single most serious and reprehensible. Do you agree? Explain your answer.
14. Snow had to work harder to disprove the miasmatists with his analysis of the Lambeth and S&V water supply case because the data showed that the subdistricts that relied on the polluted water source also happened to be in less desirable industrial zones. Discuss modern examples of how socio-geo-economic issues can influence scientific and medical assessments.
15. Discuss how the process of hypothesis, formulation of methods, implementation, and review is presented in this books. How does Snow use hypotheses, formulation of methods, and review? How do Victorian methods differ from current scientific methods?
16. Whitehead was effective as an independent researcher in part because he had intimate knowledge of Soho and its residents and was not timid about asserting and building on his knowledge. He stood his ground on the issue of an “index case,” for example, which led to the reexamination of the Broad Street well. How did his neighborhood knowledge help solve the case? How might his social status have added weight to his influence over events? What if a similarly independent, civic-minded midwife or journalist had been in his role?
17. What aspect of the story most interests or intrigues or impacts you? Relate to your awareness about your personal motivations or biases or problem solving skills. This is a wide open question. Talk about what you are extracting from the book and how you can apply it.


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