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Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and Author

Oliver Sacks: I think my parents were puzzled. When I finished my training, and I was 32, I went into a chronic disease hospital -- institution. And I think my parents were both rather surprised at that, because their contact had especially been with patients in the real world. But at that point, I think I needed to see people who had spent much of their lives in institutions of this sort. I think when I got deeper and deeper into contact with my Awakenings patients, they saw that this was a different sort of medicine. Different from theirs, but romantic in its own way, dedicated in its own way. So I think they were sort of worried. I remember when my first book came out -- Migraine --on the day of publication, my father burst into the room. He was trembling. He was ashen. He was holding The Times of London. He says, "There's an article about you in the newspaper. There's an article about the book." And although the article was a very nice article and sort of said kind things about the book, my father was actually somewhat shocked, because the notion was that, as a doctor, you should have a low profile. You shouldn't publish. And for years after that, I always misread the word "publishable" as "punishable." There was quite a lot of ambivalence, and again, I wasn't sure myself of the proprieties of telling the stories of my patients. Even though I would get formal consent, this involves an exposure or a disclosure. I've had this concern all the time, but I can only hope that if one writes with appreciation and delicacy and respect, then it's okay. I have to say that I've written a hundred times as much as I've published, because if there's any thought of offense or embarrassment, then I will put the thing quietly away.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

The idea of evolution by design, designing the future, anticipating the future. I think of the need for more wisdom in the world, to deal with the knowledge that we have. At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge? I define wisdom as the capacity to make retrospective judgments prospectively. I think these are human qualities, human attributes that need to be brought out, need to be drawn upon, need to be valued.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: I take great pride in the fact that we have a whole movement of people that are working on these cases, obviously, to get innocent people out of prison, and identify those who really committed the crime. But most importantly, it is a movement of criminal justice reform. And that we have made a big difference, I hope, in the system. We have prosecutors forming what we call "conviction integrity" units to try to look at miscarriages of justice and work cooperatively with defense lawyers to change the results. We are really trying to make some fundamental changes in the way the criminal justice system operates. And a lot of it is involving greater scientific approach to these problems. But also a lot of it has to do with bringing people back to key and fundamental ideas of justice. Because I think that properly understood, that's what we are all about in this system. The prosecutor is not just about winning cases, we hope, but about making sure that the results are right, and we have to figure out ways to give them space to correct mistakes. And whether it's the defense lawyer, or the prosecutor, or a judge in the system, we have to do a lot better at policing ourselves. And when there is misconduct, we really have to hold people accountable, and we really haven't been doing that adequately in this system.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: Frankly, you just have to believe in what you are doing, and understand that you are playing by the rules, and you are doing the job that the system requires you to do. I never had any qualms about that. We were brought in to do what we had to do in the Simpson case. Frankly, in the issues that we were litigating, even our adversaries recognized in the end that we were right about them. But look, if you don't -- I teach this all the time to law students -- if you want to have a criminal justice system where people's rights are defended, it is just a fact of life that the state has to be held to its proof. It is part of our system that we want to protect the innocent from being wrongfully convicted, and there will be some people that are guilty that escape, because the state doesn't have the proof to demonstrate that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: Well, the state screws up the evidence all the time, but the defense does too. Which is another great tragedy, that inadequate defense lawyers cause miscarriages of justice as well. But the bottom line, in terms of personal morality, it's role-defined. I have never had a problem being a criminal defense lawyer. I think it's liberty's last champion. If you care about liberty, and you care about a democracy and you care about it functioning properly -- particularly for those who are the most despised -- you want a good defense lawyer, because it's the good defense lawyer that keeps the system honest, and keeps it running properly, and prevents miscarriages of justice. And you have to have the guts to do it. So I think it's a noble calling. It's a hard job, but we really are liberty's last champions. I have no doubt about it. But you know, the funny thing is, a lot of my colleagues, they said, "Well, you ceased being a defense lawyer a long time ago. You're just getting innocent people out of jail and then suing on their behalf. That's easy to do." I mean, not easy, but I don't sit around saying, "Oh gee, am I doing the wrong thing?" at night. I feel pretty good about what we do.
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