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 Draw Your Riskometer

By Shlomo Maital

Tina Seelig’s Riskometer

Tina Seelig is a Stanford University professor, who teaches creativity and innovation. In a TED salon talk,

   She shows us how to change the way we relate to risk, and to luck. It all starts with leaving our comfort zone – being comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that, in turn, relates to taking risks…taking chances. But first, we need to look deeply into ourselves.

   So to do this, try Seelig’s riskometer. Draw a circle. Place on the circumference, six ‘realms”, or types of risk (financial, intellectual, social, political, emotional, physical.   On the spoke, mark the place where your risk appetite resides…’high’, close to the circumference, ‘low’, close to the center.

   Now – carefully consider, how you can improve your risk appetite, for realms where you are risk averse – and stuck in yourcomfort zone.

     Creativity is risky. It involves taking chances. The more comfortable you are with this, the more willing you will be, to come up with innovative ideas and, most important, to try them.

   By the way, the riskometer diagram above is Tina Seelig’s own. She needs some work on physical and financial risk. Tina – try sky diving. And,   buy a few Tesla shares….

Hidden Racism: Causes and Cures

By Shlomo Maital


   How do you measure racist attitudes? Certainly, not by asking people if they dislike blacks, Jews, Arabs, Muslims or gays. People mostly know there is social disapproval for such attitudes and answer according to the norm, rather than their own intrinsic belief.

   One approach is known as the IAT – implicit association test. How does it work? On an open website, people are asked to sort faces (black and white) according to descriptions pertaining to “good” and “bad”. The decision is taken quickly, without conscious thinking. It was developed by a social psychologist named Anthony Greenwald about 20 years ago.

   The implicit-association test (IAT) is a measure within social psychology designed to detect the strength of a person’s automatic association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory. …. the Race IAT shows that more than 70% of individuals have an implicit preference for Whites over Blacks. On the other hand, only half of Black individuals prefer Blacks over Whites.   Similarly, the Age IAT generally shows that most individuals have an implicit preference for young over old, regardless of the age of the person taking the IAT.

   The IAT is part of Harvard University Project Implicit, which investigates thoughts and feelings that are largely outside of active awareness or control.  The key point here is powerful: Racism and other forms of hatred and discrimination are based primarily not on conscious thought, as per white supremacists, but unconscious attitudes driven by the social milieu and context. Perhaps this is why racism remains endemic in most societies, long after laws have become more equal for all.

     If this is so – can such racism be overcome? Can an individual overcome it, if it is in the air we breathe?   The answer is, yes, given time. Decisions taken rapidly, are driven by the limbic brain. Decisions taken thoughtfully are driven by a cognitive conscious process. Research shows, if police (as in Dever, Colorado) can take even a few seconds to think, consider, and judge, actions driven by subconscious racism can be corrected and made more equal.

     I myself am an example. I consider myself liberal, and try hard every day to respect every single person I encounter, whatever their race, religion, creed or age. Yet, recently, in a workshop I led for high school teachers, I had a participant who wore a hijab, a Muslim head covering worn by women.   “Salima” (pseudonym), I assumed instantly, would not contribute much to the Workshop. This was my subconscious speaking. That wrong racist first impression was corrected rapidly. It emerged that Salima was a Technion graduate in chemical engineering, and was the most brilliant of my Workshop participants. She contributed immensely.

     Most enlightened people strongly deny they have racist beliefs. Yet, we live in society, and society has racist beliefs. So it is hard for individuals to escape them, especially when they are ‘underground’, subterranean. The IAT tells us to be aware of the underground forces and to use our cognition to control and alter them.

Good News for Bad Knees

By Shlomo Maital


Surgeons Inserting a Cartiheal Device

   A great many people, especially the elderly, need hip and knee replacements. One million such replacements are done annually in the US. The operation has become common, ever since the May Clinic pioneered it in 1971. Some 7.2 million Americans are living today with knee and hip implants. Those numbers grow, as Americans age.

   There is no doubt that replacing worn knee and hip joints has given many far better quality of life. But there are also problems associated with implants. There can be infection, and the replacement joints can wear out, requiring another painful operation; many elderly people are not quite up to that.

     Now comes a team of creative Israeli researchers. A startup called CartiHeal has developed an implant known as Agili-C, that replaces human cartilage and induces torn and worn cartilage to rebuild and regrow. In the past few days, the first surgery in Israel to insert the implant was done at Hadassah Medical Center, Mt. Scopus, Israel (see photo). The surgery was done by Dr. Adi Friedman, head of arthroscopic surgery for sport injuries.   Friedman said:

     “The need for an implant that can foster regrowth of cartilage that has been damaged is a real medical need, the world of orthopedic surgery has been anxiously awaiting it. We hope our experiment will succeed, and that the implant will become a breakthrough that we have awaited for many years!”

     CartiHeal is an Israeli startup founded by Nir Altschuler in 2009, in cooperation with Ben Gurion University. The CartiHeal implant has CE approval in Europe (their equivalent of America’s FDA) and will soon begin clinical trials for FDA approval.

     The CartiHeal cartilage implant has been used widely in Europe, treating some 400 patients with success. By getting the knee or hip to regenerate its own cartilage, the need for a replacement implant (when the artificial knee or hip joint wears out) is obviated. And of course, the body’s own cartilage is far superior to that of an artificial implant.

       CartiHeal’s website opens the possibility of joining a clinical trial.


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
August 2018