Anupam B. Jena and Christopher M. Worsham at Harvard Book Store


Random Acts of Medicine:
The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors,
Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health 

in conversation with EMILY OSTER


July 10, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes ANUPAM B. JENA, MD, PhD—Harvard professor and host of the Freakonomics, MD podcast—and CHRISTOPHER M. WORSHAM, MD, MPH—researcher, pulmonologist, and critical care physician at Harvard—for a discussion of their new book Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health. They will be joined in conversation by EMILY OSTER, New York Times bestselling author and Professor of Economics at Brown University.

Update on Event Masking Policies

Masks are not required for this event. As of June 1, 2023, masks are encouraged but not required for most Harvard Book Store events, unless otherwise specified. Please review individual listings.

About Random Acts of Medicine

Why do kids born in the summer get diagnosed more often with A.D.H.D.? How are marathons harmful for your health, even when you're not running? What do surgeons and salesmen have in common? Which annual event made people 30 percent more likely to get COVID-19?

As a University of Chicago–trained economist and Harvard medical school professor and doctor, Anupam Jena is uniquely equipped to answer these questions. And as a critical care doctor at Massachusetts General who researches health care policy, Christopher Worsham confronts their impact on the hospital’s sickest patients. In this singular work of science and medicine, Jena and Worsham show us how medicine really works, and its effect on all of us.

Relying on ingeniously devised natural experiments—random events that unknowingly turn us into experimental subjects—Jena and Worsham do more than offer readers colorful stories. They help us see the way our health is shaped by forces invisible to the untrained eye. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie?  Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? These questions are rife with significance; their impact can be life changing. Addressing them in a style that’s both animated and enlightening, Random Acts of Medicine empowers you to see past the white coat and find out what really makes medicine work—and how it could work better.

Praise for Random Acts of Medicine

"Random Acts of Medicine is my favorite kind of book: smart, entertaining, and full of surprises. The field of medicine has been slow to appreciate the immense power of natural experiments. Jena and Worsham are on a crusade to change that. Read this book, and you’ll be a believer." —Steven D. Levitt, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics

"It is a rare book that manages to be both fantastically entertaining and deeply thought-provoking. This is such a book." —Emily Oster, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Firm, Cribsheet, and Expecting Better

"Random Acts of Medicine accomplishes the rare feat of delivering important science in page-turning fashion. There's something fascinating on every page. You'll never think about healthcare quite the same way again." —David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene

“A charming and informative look at the role of randomness in patients’ and doctors’ lives—and how natural experiments can turn this randomness into fascinating insights.” —Joshua Angrist, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in economics

Anupam B. Jena
Anupam B. Jena

Anupam B. Jena

Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, is an economist, physician, and the Joseph P. Newhouse Professor at Harvard. Jena hosts the Freakonomics, MD podcast, which explores the hidden side of health care.

Photo credit: Steven Lipofsky

Christopher M. Worsham
Christopher M. Worsham

Christopher M. Worsham

Christopher M. Worsham, MD, MPH, is a researcher, pulmonologist, and critical care physician at Harvard. His research and writing have been published by the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Photo credit: Darren Pellegrino

Emily Oster
Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Emily Oster is on a mission to help parents become more data literate, and thus remove much of the anxiety of modern day parenting.  As both a parent of two and a Professor of Economics at Brown University (she holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard) she was inspired to utilize her data translation super powers to analyze the data around pregnancy and parenting to help give parents the information and tools they need to confidently make informed decisions.  She is a New York Times best-selling author, whose books include Expecting Better, Cribsheet and The Family Firm. Last year, she was named to the 2022 Time 100 Most Influential People list.

Photo credit: Rachel Hulin

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