Sophie Shulman, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci. is the Director of CFI-Victoria. I wrote two articles based on two petitions by and for CFI-Victoria. I reached out to Dr. Shulman for an interview. She agreed. By the way, she is retired.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like? I want to touch on the language in the home, the culture of the community, the religion of the area, and expectations for women time.
Sophie Shulman, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci.: I was born in pre-WWII Stalin’s purposefully pauperized Russia when ‘steel and guns replaced shoes and butter’ as the official goal TO CATCH UP WITH AMERICA at all costs. The costs for the population had been grand, but so was the ultimate reward: the victory over Nazism.
My parents (both MD), my nanny and myself as a child, all lived in one room of a communal apartment (7 rooms, 7 unrelated families of all walks of life, one shared kitchen with two electric ovens with 8 hot-plates, one communal bathroom (each family had their day of a week for family bathing and by-hand laundry; clotheslines crisscrossed the air under high kitchen ceiling) and a telephone on the corridor wall); all families struggled to make the ends meet. Our next door neighbor was a known lawyer with his wife, an aspiring concert-singer, the next one – a single seamstress, then a factory worker with his family, an accountant with wife, etc.
Jacobsen: You are a retired medical doctor. Why did you pursue this professional training? Why did you pursue this career? How much did medical quackery, as it sometimes called in a derisive tone – sometimes meanly, factor into the medical community at the time?
Jacobsen: How did you come into contact with the skeptical community?
Jacobsen: What values do you take away from the skeptical movement as well as worldview or methodology for investigation of the world?
Jacobsen: What advice would you have for young people entering into the medical disciplines?
Shulman: Well chosen, good luck! But do not just pursue ‘big’ money, there is so immeasurably much more in medicine!
Jacobsen: Center for Inquiry is typically secular humanist in orientation. How does this influence you if at all?
Jacobsen: What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite thinker?
Shulman: Too many to be listed: they differed at various periods of my life. As for historical figures – Marquis de Condorcet, the Gracchi brothers.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Sophie.