Reporters on the Job

A Simple Philosophy: In the course of researching his article about Jacques Derrida's legacy (page 1), staff writer Peter Ford learned more about post-structuralist philosophy than he ever thought he would need to know (if, of course, one can ever be said to really know anything). As a philosophy student at an English university 30 years ago, he was not exposed to deconstruction - "maybe it was too early, maybe it was because all my professors were logical positivists," he says. But he has always been guided by one philosophical rule that he doesn't think the French school necessarily follows: "If there are two competing and equally plausible explanations for a phenomenon, choose the simpler one."

Seeking Advice and Healing: The genesis of today's story about the official recognition of traditional medicine in Africa (this page) lies in an incident in the home of reporter Federica Bianchi. "A member of the staff here in Nairobi [Kenya] became sick about a month ago. An argument broke out between two staff members over whether traditional or Western medicine was the best way to treat the case. They came to me to settle the argument, and I had no idea what to tell them. It was the first time I'd even considered the use of traditional medicine," says Federica. The question prompted her to do some research, and she was surprised by the how many African governments are now recognizing the role of traditional medicine.

Her sick staff member's choice? "She decided it was safer, and cheaper, to use traditional medicine, and the healer was from her own tribe," says Federica. "And it worked!"

David Clark Scott
World editor

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