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Author Archive: Kayhan Parsi


by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD and Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

To say that we live in a classist society is to say that water is wet. Yet, we need occasional reminders of this reality.  For instance, the recent college admissions scandal brought to light the excesses of class and privilege.  Allegedly, parents spent millions of dollars to bribe coaches and administrators, faked involvement in sports and other activities, and even got extra time for students alleging disabilitiesIn an age where nearly everything generates shock and moral outrage, this triggered a tsunami of criticism.  How could people who are already wealthy and privileged perpetrate such a massive scam?…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD and Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

If you try googling the term “peer review is,” one of the top search results is “broken.” This reflects some of the frustration and even cynicism about the peer review process.  Regarding the shortcomings of peer review, one is reminded of the famous quote attributed to Churchill (“democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”) Yet peer review is still regarded as the holy grail of publishing—something that purportedly ensures high quality of new scholarship.  In this editorial, we would like to define peer review and analyze the current state of peer review, along with some possible changes and innovations.…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

We are currently ensconced in graduation season. Having worked over fifteen years as a professor, I’ve been to my share of commencements. I typically enjoy these events, as they provide an opportunity to celebrate graduates’ accomplishments and allow family members to bask in the pride of their loved one’s newly acquired degree. Although these events may seem interminable to some, our school has successfully whittled these down to a humane length—typically no longer than 90 minutes (and sometimes even shorter). One part of the event, however, that consistently raises controversy is the commencement speaker (or, to be more precise, their fees).…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD and Bela Fishbeyn, MS

As an associate editor and executive editor of the American Journal of Bioethics, we identify and recruit peer reviewers to review manuscripts that have been submitted for publication. These individuals are valued for their expertise and willingness to review others’ work and evaluate it for possible publication. Peer reviewing is part of the service academics do and are not compensated for this important work. We recognize that the people who provide anonymous peer review are the backbone of scholarship. Without them, we would not have scholarly journals or new knowledge. Of course, the peer review process is not flawless.…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD PhD

Protest singer Edwin Starr powerfully asked in the early 1970s: “War, what is it good for?” Apparently, it’s good enough to use in a variety of metaphorical turns of phrase. The war on poverty. The war on cancer. The war on Alzheimer’s. The war on drugs. The war metaphor seems irresistible. How else to elevate a social problem and make it the object of our intense focus and attention, not to mention financial support? These metaphors figure prominently in many areas of public life. Take policing. As scholars Peter Kraska and Victor Kappeler have stated about the use of military metaphors in policing: “The ideological filter encased within the war metaphor is ‘militarism,’ defined as a set of beliefs and values that stress the use of force and domination as appropriate means to solve problems and gain political power”.…

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Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

In the first-year clinical skills course at our medical school, we offer a session on tobacco cessation. In this part of our course, we emphasize to our medical students the significant costs tobacco use incurs. The costs to health are now well documented. The financial costs are substantial as well. We teach our students that they can have a positive impact upon their patients’ health by utilizing motivational interviewing techniques and applying the 5 A’s of change (ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange). The students obtain some basic skills counseling patients on smoking cessation. They understand they can play a relevant role in addressing this major public health issue.…

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Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

“In Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”

–Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

With the rise of Donald Trump as a political force, we should take stock of some prescient work of the last 30 years. In 1985, cultural critic Neil Postman wrote his landmark book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (a 20th anniversary edition was issued in 2005 with an introduction by his son Andrew Postman).…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. –Aristotle

The year 2015 produced a mind numbing number of events that triggered intense social media anger. From the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion to the CEO who jacked up HIV/AIDS drugs, it seemed everyone had an excuse to be angry. With the ubiquity of social media, we now all have convenient outlets for our anger when someone displays extreme assholery.…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD and Nanette Elster, JD, MPH

The new NBC medical drama Chicago Med premiered this week. A spin off of other established NBC dramas (Chicago Fire and Chicago PD), Chicago Med focuses on the working lives of health care professionals in a busy emergency department in the city of Chicago. Sound familiar? It should, because that was the premise of the hugely successful NBC series ER that premiered over 20 years ago in 1994 and launched the careers of several successful actors.

Hitchcock once said that “Drama is life with the dull bits left out.” The same could be said about Chicago Med.…

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by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

A dozen years ago, polymath and federal appellate judge Richard Posner wrote a book called Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline. Posner took to task the group of public intellectuals he surveyed in his book (e.g. scholars, artists, public officials, etc.) for the low level quality of their work. As David Brooks (another person targeted in his book) observed: “We stink. Our logic is flawed. Our use of evidence is shoddy. Our ratiocination is crude.” Posner’s analysis focused on the likes of Allan Bloom, Amitai Etzioni, Toni Morrison, and even Bill Moyers.   Although many of the names on his list are people recognizable by people in the academy, most would not be remotely recognizable by the vast majority of individuals who comprise the “public.” And this brings up a serious problem with the notion of a public intellectual–the “public” part of this moniker is quite limited.…

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