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The Role of Science in Public Discourse and Racial Justice: Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, MDs: PYP 414

Team Sherzai, aka Dean and Ayesha, join me on the podcast to talk about the role of science and scientists in dealing with all the false statements propagated on social media (as well as, occasionally, traditional media).

What the Sherzais value highly about science is the holy grail of falsifiability; the challenge that every theory and finding implicitly makes to other scientists: prove me wrong!

They also appreciate the inherent humility that is baked into true science, as well as the imperfect nature of knowledge at any given time. And how that humility is sacrificed when scientists annoint themselves past protectors, rather than claiming their rightful mantle as future seekers.

It's a fine line to walk – we discussed the Covid deniers arguing that the whole thing is a conspiracy to make us compliant victims of the pharmaceutical industry, in light of what we know about widespread corruption and greed in that very industry. While the political discourse around the coronavirus is mostly binary, they stressed the importance of nuance, complexity, and humility in ascertaining the truth of this disease and how to deal with it.

We also talk about racism, and where it comes from in the brain, and what we can and should do about it. As medical researchers and clinicians, the Sherzais have not been shy about advocating for racial justice in the aftermath of the uprisings over George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks.

We talk about their backgrounds, the racial profiling they have (and haven't) been subjected to, and Amy Cuddy's concept of “the range of allowable behaviors” that defines how Dean, a darker-skinned man with a non-Western last name, may comport himself in public – restrictions that light-skinned Ayesha is not bound by, despite her equally “foreign-sounding” name.

In case you're not familiar with the Sherzais, here's a bit of their bio, shamelessly copied from their website:

A unique husband and wife team on the cutting edge of brain science, Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai are dedicated to educating people on the simple steps to long-term health and wellness through their work as Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, with patients, as well as through online writing, videos, and books.

As Co-Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Sherzais, through research and their extensive collective medical backgrounds, work to demystify the steps to achieving long-term brain health and the prevention of devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, is co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University. Dean trained in Neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and completed fellowships in neurodegenerative diseases and dementia at the National Institutes of Health and UC San Diego. He also holds a PhD in Healthcare Leadership with a focus on community health from Andrews University.

Ayesha Sherzai, MD is a neurologist and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, where she leads the Lifestyle Program for the Prevention of Neurological Diseases. She completed a dual training in Preventative Medicine and Neurology at Loma Linda University, and a fellowship in Vascular Neurology and Epidemiology at Columbia University. She is also a trained plant-based culinary artist.

If you haven't read their book, The Alzheimer's Solution, I highly recommend it for anyone with a brain, or who knows anyone with a brain.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

The Sherzai's website

The Alzheimer's Solution, by Dean and Ayesha Sherzai

The Logic of Scientific Discovery, by Karl Popper

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – for your generous support of the podcast.

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