Piping as Poison: The Flint Water Crisis and America's Toxic Infrastructure

Chris Sellers, Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

As the crisis over the water in Flint, Michigan, rolls on, we’re learning more and more about the irresponsibility and callousness of officials and politicians in charge.

The mix of austerity politics, environmental racism and sheer ineptitude makes for a shocking brew, yet the physical conditions that have made it literally toxic for Flint residents are neither as exceptional nor as recent as much of the media coverage suggests.

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Is Hunting Moral? A Philosopher Unpacks The Question

Joshua Duclos, Boston University

Every year as daylight dwindles and trees go bare, debates arise over the morality of hunting. Hunters see the act of stalking and killing deer, ducks, moose and other quarry as humane, necessary and natural, and thus as ethical. Critics respond that hunting is a cruel and useless act that one should be ashamed to carry out.

As a nonhunter, I cannot say anything about what it feels like to shoot or trap an animal. But as a student of philosophy and ethics, I think philosophy can help us clarify, systematize and evaluate the arguments on both sides. And a better sense of the arguments can help us talk to people with whom we disagree.

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Health Check: The Untrue Story of Antioxidants V.S. Free Radicals

Emma Beckett, University of Newcastle and Mark Lucock, University of Newcastle

Antioxidants are a commonly promoted feature of health foods and supplements. They’re portrayed as the good forces that fight free radicals – nasty molecules causing damage thought to hasten ageing and cause chronic diseases.

The simple logic that antioxidants are “good” and free radicals are “bad”, has led to the idea that simply getting more antioxidants into our bodies, from foods or supplements, can outweigh the impacts of free radicals.

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The Myth Of The Disappearing Book

Simone Natale, Loughborough University and Andrea Ballatore, Birkbeck, University of London

After years of sales growth, major publishers reported a fall in their e-book sales for the first time this year, introducing new doubts about the potential of e-books in the publishing industry. A Penguin executive even admitted recently that the e-books hype may have driven unwise investment, with the company losing too much confidence in “the power of the word on the page.”

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It’s Official: Inequality, Climate Change & Social Polarisation Are Bad For You

Jonathan Michie, University of Oxford

This year’s Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum warns that rising income inequality and societal polarisation could create further problems if urgent action isn’t taken -– and that’s after the car-crash that was 2016. Amen to that. It is somehow appropriate that the report is published just days after the death of Tony Atkinson, the social scientist who did more than any other to point to the importance of income inequality as an issue, and to argue that action could and should be taken.

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Pharma Execs Arrested in Shockingly Organized Scheme to Overprescribe Notorious Opioid

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—the drug that killed Prince—rose by nearly 75 percent in 2015. On the same day, federal prosecutors in Massachusetts announced the arrest of six former employees, including a former CEO and two former vice presidents, of the Phoenix-based and NASDAQ-traded fentanyl producer Insys Therapeutics. The individuals are charged with bribing doctors and otherwise conspiring to induce the overprescription of a fentanyl product called Subsys.

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