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The Sciences

Saints + Sinners: Patient Healer, Climate Denier

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Saint: Victoria SweetThe physician and historian published God’s Hotel in April to make the case that healing depends on personal care and patience—a facet of medicine that today’s health-care system often rejects in favor of quick cures. The book chronicles Sweet’s work in the early 1990s at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, where she treated elderly and disabled patients for long stretches of time and achieved successful outcomes.

Sinner: Jim Lakely
The director of communications at Heartland Institute, a think tank that rejects climate science, has stubbornly defended the group’s ridiculous billboard likening those concerned about climate change to the Unabomber. Swift backlash led to a scrapping of the ad campaign and the loss of corporate sponsors such as State Farm and Diageo.

In Purgatory: Robert Spitzer
The eminent psychiatrist apologized for his past support of reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality. In the 1970s Spitzer pushed to end the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness, but in a 2003 paper he concluded that reparative therapy was effective. He now admits the study had serious methodological flaws.

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