Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

This book and I got off to a bad start. In the introduction, it said "it's illegal to buy or sell organs for transplantation everywhere in the world except Iran and Singapore." That led to about half an hour of frantic Googling, and yes, you're going to read about it next.


First, the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA) saysPART IV
Buying or selling of organs or blood prohibited and void
14.—(1) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a contract or an arrangement under which a person agrees, for valuable consideration, whether given or to be given to himself or to another person, to the sale or supply of any organ or blood from his body or from the body of another person, whether before or after his death or the death of the other person, as the case may be, shall be void. [14/2009]
(2) A person who enters into a contract or an arrangement of the kind referred to in subsection (1) and to which that subsection applies shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both. (emphasis added)
What the author was probably thinking about, was the addition of the word "compensation" to HOTA. Part 3, section (c) says

(c) any contract, arrangement or valuable consideration providing only for the defraying or reimbursing, in money or money’s worth, of such costs or expenses that may be reasonably incurred by a person in relation to —
(i) the removal, transportation, preparation, preservation, quality control or storage of any organ;
(ii) the costs or expenses (including the costs of travel, accommodation, domestic help or child care) or loss of earnings so far as are reasonably or directly attributable to that person supplying any organ from his body; and
(iii) any short-term or long-term medical care or insurance protection of that person which is or may reasonably be necessary as a consequence of his supplying any organ from his body.
Also, this is limited to Singaporeans/PRs. If what I read about Iran was right (I don't know the relevant act, so I didn't look it up), it's legal for citizens to sell their kidneys for profit, something that is illegal in Singapore. What Singapore is doing is similar to what Australia is doing (and if you listen to that article, they're not the only two countries). So the author was mistaken to include Singapore - if she wanted to make compensation a form of buying and selling, then she should have included Australia and any other countries who do the same.


Anyway, after that rocky start to the book, I thought it was interesting. The book is basically about how face-to-face contact can really, really help our health, and how screen time may not be as beneficial as we think it is (although the technology is useful). The author goes out of her way to stress that she's not a technophobe, but that she wants more contact for people.

There are a lot of studies in the book, which would be the basis of all the recommendations/implications of face-to-face contact. Of course, after the whole including Singapore in list of countries that allow the selling of organs because of misunderstanding a law (and then suddenly correctly understanding that Australia's stance), I'm more than a little hesitant to let believe all her interpretations of the studies.

This is a readable book, and I do want to find out more about the subject. Does anyone know of a similar book, where someone else looks at the same studies and comes up with their own conclusions?

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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