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SPH Brown Bag Research Presentation: The Evolution of Death: A Positive Analysis (+jokes) of an Inevitable Outcome

Seminar | October 11 | 12-1 p.m. | 5101 Berkeley Way West


Malcolm Potts, Professor of the Graduate School, School of Public Health

Public Health, School of


Dr. Potts is an emeritus professor with a lifelong interest in offering family planning choices, including safe abortion. His current focus is on population growth and climate change in Francophone Africa. Potts is the founder chairperson of a small pharma company taking the Pill off prescription. He is 83: the actuarial tables show he should live another 9 years - although he would like to know the confidence limits. Malcolm says he is having such an interesting time preparing this talk that he would like to find someone who might join in turning it into a paper or article.

Dr. Potts will be talking about the evolution of death. Death is as scientifically explicable as the circulation of the blood. As we cease to reproduce, natural selection is less able to eliminate deleterious mutations. Knowledge – particularly about ourselves – is power. An evolutionary perspective on death can help define an individual’s right to end to end their life. It can inform the allocation of health care. As I learnt when my previous wife died, grief is a healing process: laughter and tears are close together. Have you heard the joke about the three nuns outside the Pearly Gates?

For UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff only.


lhg@berkeley.edu