Alumni Story: Stephen Haines '71

 I was attracted to Math and the Social Sciences because my first sociology course with Professor James Davis introduced me to the idea that the fuzzy issues of social behavior were amenable to quantitative analysis.

The MSS major allowed me to explore that idea in depth. As unusual as it still seems, those concepts have served me very well in my subsequent career in academic neurosurgery.  Most of my colleagues in academic medicine at that time were steeped in the statistics of the natural world with its continuous normally distributed variables. It turned out that the fuzzy non-parametric data of clinical practice are much better handled with the methods developed in quantitative social science. The result has been a career-long advocacy of what started as clinical trials applied to neurosurgery, became clinical epidemiology and then evidence-based medicine. As a result, we understand and evaluate the practice of neurosurgery better than would otherwise have been the case and make better decisions for our patients. It is an outcome I could not have foreseen, but one for which I am forever grateful.