Bioethicists Go to Hollywood; Gives Injection of Bioethics Reality!

Movie Tickets
Movie Tickets by Raymond Shobe CC BY 2.0

Have you all noticed the recent movies and TV shows that revolve heavily around bioethics? I’m thinking of World War Z and Grey’s Anatomy in particular but there are several examples in recent history. These story lines tend revolve around the gray areas in medicine and information science, and generate a great deal of conversation on controversial issues.

NPR ran an article on a group of Johns Hopkins bioethics professionals that went to Hollywood in October to have a dialogue on bioethics and how it can be accurately applied in media. According to Rich Loverd, head of the exchange, media producers and ethicists are a true meeting of the times:

“Storytellers really enjoy working at the edge of the bell curve,” he tells Shots. “Where it’s unclear where the right answer is and there’s moral ambiguity. Thinking about bioethics really engages an audience about thinking about the future.”

Their conversation revolved around three major topics:

  1. Allocating scarce health resources
  2. Human enhancements, ranging from vaccinations to genetic engineering
  3. Privacy and health data potential benefits and costs

I have a real soft spot for interdisciplinary work and cooperative discussion of complicated issues, and it is  interesting and exciting that the movies and TV shows presented to our society are taking steps to make sure they’re accurately portraying the nuanced and complicated issues surrounding bioethics.  In my opinion, each individual needs to have a philosophical standpoint on each of these issues, and mass media can help to stimulate the conversation.

If you’re interested in more information on bioethics in the media, check out, a website totally devoted to the area.

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