About Thomas Goetz
I’m Thomas Goetz, author of The Decision Tree blog and of the book, The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine (which you can order here). I have a new book, The Remedy, coming out in the Spring of 2014. For nearly 12 years, I helped run WIRED magazine.
You can email me at Tgoetz AT me dot com.
My Background:I’ve been a journalist for more than 15 years, first reporting on media and business at the Village Voice, then at the Wall Street Journal, followed by a crazed two years at the Industry Standard. From 2001 through 2012 I steered the ship at WIRED, including four years as executive editor. I had the chance to guide the magazine to ample honors, including a dozen National Magazine Awards and, in 2010, being chosen as AdWeek’s “Magazine of the Decade.”
My articles for WIRED, the New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere have covered personal genomics, the controversial metabolic syndrome, the paradox of cancer screening, and the mystery of behavior change. This work has been selected for the Best American Science Writing, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best Technology Writing anthologies. My TED talk on redesigning medical information has been viewed more than 300,000 times.
I write about how technology is changing our lives, mainly through the lens of healthcare and medicine. In 2005 this led me back to school, and I picked up a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Public health is an incredibly broad field, covering everything from global health to community health to Medicare to pharmaceuticals. Generally, I use it as a tool to frame the contexts of health and medicine: how can we deliver healthcare to our citizens to create the maximum amount of health and happiness?
The Decision Tree emerged out of two trends: From public health, that engaging people in their health and involving them as decision-makers and participants tends to improve their behavior and their outcome. And from technology, the emergence of cheaper, better tools that can offer people a way in, through everything from self-tracking gadgets to online disease communities. In short, it’s a confluence of ideas and technology that make it an auspicious time for healthcare. That’s the premise of the book.
The Decision Tree idea: What’s a decision tree? Well, basically it’s a flow chart. So what does that have to do with health? The idea is this: Our health doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a consequence of years of choices – some large and some small – that combine to make up our health. Sometimes we’ve chosen wisely and we enjoy good health; sometimes we choose poorly and we suffer the consequences. A decision tree, then, is a trope; a device that can make these decisions more explicit and more obviously something we are actually choosing – it’s a way to externalize the choices that we otherwise make without much thought at all. Research shows that when we actually engage in a decision (when we think it through, even if just for a moment) we tend to make a better decision, defined both as one that we’re more comfortable with in hindsight and one that potentially bodes a better outcome. By engaging with our health consciously and explicitly as a series of decisions, one leading to another, we can become “smarter” and enjoy better health.
For speaking engagements, please contact The BrightSight Group.