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Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and Author

Oliver Sacks: My way of studying the brain, as a clinical neurologist, is not to stick electrodes in it or to do brain imaging -- although, of course, these may be necessary -- but to see the impact of various diseases, various forms of damage on the person. One can learn a tremendous -- one sees a tremendous amount this way. For example, although we get a sort of seamless picture of the world, there are 40 or 50 sub-systems, visual sub-systems, and one would have no idea of their existence were it not that one or two of them might be knocked out. Someone might become totally color blind or motion blind or something else. So on the one hand, I plot the person's ability to construct a world, a visual world, a moral world, whatever -- intellectual world -- on the basis of their brain functions and their compromise. But equally, I'm very much concerned with peoples' ability to continue life, or to renew themselves or to reconstruct themselves and their lives in other ways, so that even if, let us say, color vision is lost, the black and white world can then become heightened and enhanced. And there may be a heightened sense of contour and boundary and texture and tone and movement and depth and everything else. So for me, this is a way of seeing how people and brains construct worlds and construct selves.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

Why do I see things differently from the way other people see them? Why do I pursue the questions that I pursue, even if others regard them as, as they say, "controversial?" Which merely means that they have a difference of opinion. They see things differently. I am interested both in nature and in the human side of nature, and how the two can be brought together, and effective in a useful way.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

It was quite an extraordinary it is sort of a landmark case. Because what happened, we did a six-month evidentiary hearing. There were Nobel Prize winners on the prosecution side, we had all these great scientists. And by the end of the hearing, Eric wrote an article about it in Nature. But what happened is he got the prosecution scientists to agree with our scientists about the data and they conceded. They wrote a joint statement at the end of the hearing that you couldn't match the fragments, you couldn't make an adequate statement about their significance, and called on the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel immediately to help with the transfer of this technology from medical and research purposes to the forensic arena. And that was really a great and extraordinary development. That's really how we began. So we knew immediately that DNA would prove a lot of people innocent.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: I feel, and my colleague Peter Neufeld and everybody that works on the Innocence Project in New York and in the other projects across the country, we feel we are involved in an international human rights movement. Because it has been established now in the United Kingdom, Norway, Israel, China, people are trying to start -- well, Taiwan -- trying to start an Innocence Project. They are very interested in -- mainland China as well -- in this whole issue, and they have delegations over to look at it. But I think that it's an essential human right. No matter what kind of a system you have, whether it's adversarial or inquisitional, there has to be a mechanism in place for people to be able to prove after an adjudication that they really didn't commit the crime. And we've had problems in the American criminal justice system being able to get back into court to prove innocence. And we now have established that far more innocent people are convicted than anybody ever really thought. It was really a necessary fiction to believe that we have an infallible system, but it certainly isn't, and there is no good reason to believe it is infallible. Indeed, I think a law student should say, what's really great about the Innocence Project is not simply that you're able to save a life or the lives of family members of the wrongfully incarcerated and the wrongfully convicted.
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