General Thinker Profile


Nominated by:

Remo Giuffre
Founder & Director
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

My Network Friends

Elizabeth Pisani

Analyst | Ternyata Ltd


"No question is too stupid"

Generally thinking:

Education & Academia
Global Issues
Government & Community
Media & Journalism
Body, Mind & Science

My tags:

ActivismGovernmentHealthJournalismScienceMediaMedicinePoliticsPublishingSocial ChangeTravelWriting

Very good at:
+ Asking difficult questions
+ Communicating complex ideas to wildly different audiences
+ Encouraging people to take risks

About me & my work:

I ask questions for a living. Technically I'm an epidemiologist specialising in HIV. I care a lot about using public money efficiently to improve the lives of those who live at the margins of other people's privilege and in 2008 published a book, The Wisdom of Whores, dissecting the politics behind the mis-use of HIV prevention money. But really, how many years can you spend thinking about other people's sex lives? Recently I've started to use the tools of epidemiology to look at social diseases such as corruption and conflict.

I also help funders of public health research to squeeze more knowledge out of research dollars by encouraging and enabling scientists to share data. I like working with research scientists to help them communicate the results of their work to people who can do something useful with the information. Sometimes, that's cabinet ministers; sometimes, it's transgender sex workers. I lecture a lot, and consider it a triumph when students ask difficult and uncomfortable questions.

In a former life I was a journalist, reporting on politically-induced cholera epidemics in India, separatist rebellions and labour riots in Indonesia, gunfights in the Cambodian central bank and the first entry of tanks to Tiananmen Square in China.

I've lived in Indonesia longer than in any other country, and have just written a book, Indonesia Etc., about that captivating and maddening country. That's led me to take an interest in the new forms of narrative made possible by digital technologies. I've also lived in a dozen other countries, half of them in Asia, and can flirt at a bar in several languages. I have a Masters in Classical Chinese from Oxford, an MSc in Medical Demography and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, both from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Somehow, I'm permanently skint. I spend as much time as I can in my sea kayak, which lives on the southwest coast of Ireland.

My links:

Indonesia Etc | Observations on politics and culture in the world's fourth most populous nation

Ternyata Ltd | Official website of Ternyata Ltd., the public health consultancy I founded.

The Wisdom of Whores | Large archive of writing on HIV and public health policy

TED Talk | A talk about sex, drugs and rational behaviour


previous previous

© 2001 to 2018 General Thinking