From The New York Times:
Win an Academy Award and you’re likely to live longer than had you been a runner-up. Interview for medical school on a rainy day, and your chances of being selected could fall. Such are some of the surprising findings of Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a physician-researcher and perhaps the leading debunker of preconceived notions in the medical world. In his 20 years as a researcher, first at Stanford University, now at the University of Toronto, Dr. Redelmeier, 50, has applied scientific rigor to topics that in lesser hands might have been dismissed as quirky and iconoclastic. In doing so, his work has shattered myths and revealed some deep truths about the predictors of longevity, the organization of health care and the workings of the medical mind. “He’ll go totally against intuition, and come up with a beautiful finding,” said Eldar Shafir, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University who has worked with Dr. Redelmeier on research into medical decision-making.
Dr. Redelmeier was the first to study cellphones and automobile crashes. A paper he published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 concluded that talking on a cellphone while driving was as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. His collaborator, Robert Tibshirani, a statistician at Stanford University, said the paper “is likely to dwarf all of my other work in statistics, in terms of its direct impact on public health.” As an internist who works at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada’s largest trauma center, Dr. Redelmeier sees a large number of patients in the aftermath of crashes. As a result, one of his abiding professional preoccupations is with vehicle crashes. He found that about 25 more people die in crashes on presidential Election Days in the United States than the norm, which he attributes to increased traffic, rushed drivers and unfamiliar routes. He also discovered a 41 percent relative increase in fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday, which he attributed to a combination of fatigue, distraction and alcohol. After publication of the findings on the Super Bowl, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration embarked on a campaign with the slogan “Fans don’t let fans drink and drive.” In preparation for a recent interview in his modest office in the sprawling hospital complex, Dr. Redelmeier had written on an index card some of his homespun philosophies.
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint,” he read, adding, “A great deal of mischief occurs when people are in a rush.”