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Which books should you read while self-isolating from coronavirus? Show more Show less
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Books can be life-changing. They can be a form of escapism that give a unique perspective into lives, times, places and ideas we will never experience ourselves. Or, a way of learning new ways of thinking, being and approaching the world. With all this time now spare, what are the key texts we should be reading?

Biographies Show more Show less

How did the people you admire deal with times of crisis?
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Lacks' incredible story is almost the stuff of movies. This poor, Southern tobacco farmer's cells were extracted without her knowledge. Those cells went on to become one of the most vital resources in scientific research even to this day.

The Argument

You should read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks while self-isolating from the coronavirus because it educates people about the history of racism in America. This book shares a valuable account of racism that teaches readers about the prejudice that permeated every sphere of American society, including science. It shares a story that reminds readers of the injustices that have occurred and continue to occur in America. [1] Through Lacks' story, people can better understand the desire for change in America. Additionally, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks should be read during quarantine because it is a book that humanizes a black woman who was treated as a test subject. It shows readers the life of Lacks and the unethical practices of scientists. Reading about these practices shows the reader that all human beings should be valued. This is important for scientists to read while self-isolating. It is also valuable to other readers because it reminds them of the value of acting in an ethical manner towards other people. The Immortal Lie of Henrietta Lacks is also a great quarantine read because it reminds the reader about how one life can impact millions. Lacks' cells have contributed to groundbreaking scientific advances such as the polio vaccine. [2] In spite of her substantial impact, her story untold until at least the 1970s when her name was finally leaked from the 1950s experiments. [3] This book reveals her untold impact on the world, ultimately reminding the reader that each person impacts the world in different ways.

Counter arguments

The author of Henrietta Lacks' biography argues that while Lacks was mistreated because scientists took her cells without consent, it was a more complicated issue than simply racist motives. [3] Due to this, we should not describe Lacks' story as an act of racism. It should be exclusively described as an act of unethical scientific practices. Therefore, this book does not provide an example of racism, and you should read something else while self-isolating.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] People should educate themselves about the history of racism in America. [P2] The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks discusses unethical scientific practices that were based on racist motivations. [P3] For this reason, people should read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01705-x
  2. https://www.npr.org/2010/02/02/123232331/henrietta-lacks-a-donors-immortal-legacy
  3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/henrietta-lacks-immortal-cells-6421299/
This page was last edited on Friday, 12 Jun 2020 at 20:05 UTC

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