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Getting people to embrace a different view is difficult, even when children’s lives are at stake. This is what Dr. Alice Stewart discovered when she undertook a 25-year battle to persuade the medical community to stop X-raying pregnant women. With this engaging story, seasoned entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan begins her valuable TED Talk about the necessity of conflict to force better solutions and drive change. getAbstract recommends Heffernan’s lecture to people in all fields and from every walk of life because “constructive conflict” leads to sounder solutions.


In the 1950s, Dr. Alice Stewart, an epidemiologist, studied the high incidents of childhood cancers. She found that a common denominator in most of the cases was that the mothers had undergone X-rays while pregnant. The study received a lot of attention, and Stewart rushed to corroborate her research before obstetrics practices changed and the cancers disappeared. However, her findings ran contrary to the beliefs of the medical community at the time, and doctors continued to X-ray expectant mothers for another 25 years. These professionals remained

About the Speaker

Corporate speaker Margaret Heffernan is the former head of IPPA (now Pact), a film and television producer trade association. She is a former CEO of several e-commerce companies. She wrote Willful Blindness.

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