Does Truth Really Matter in Politics?

John Keane, University of Sydney

The following remarks on truth and democracy were presented at the opening of a brainstorming session entitled Does Truth Really Matter in Australian Politics? Political Accountability in an Era of Agitated Media. The lively, all-day gathering of journalists, academics, students and web activists was convened by Peter Fray and hosted by the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) and the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, 9th April, 2013.

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Pleasure is Good: How French Children Acquire a Taste for Life

Marie-Anne Suizzo, University of Texas at Austin

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to lose weight by dieting. The idea is that restricting the pleasures of tasty foods will lead to greater fitness and a finer physique. But if these rewards are so valuable, why is it so hard for us to stick to our resolution? Maybe the problem is that when we try to lose weight, we also lose the pleasure of eating.

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A Dark Night is Good for your Health

Richard G 'Bugs' Stevens, University of Connecticut

Today most people do not get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called insufficient sleep an epidemic. While we are finally paying attention to the importance of sleep, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.

That’s right. Dark. Your body needs it too.

Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian rhythm. Disruption of this rhythm may increase the risk of developing some health conditions including obesity, diabetes and breast cancer

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Sometimes less is better – so why don't doctors 'deintensify' medical treatment?

Eve A Kerr, University of Michigan; Jeremy Sussman, University of Michigan, and Tanner Caverly, University of Michigan

Doctors know a lot about when to start medications to treat disease. But sometimes our focus on starting medicines means we can confuse providing more care with providing better care. And better care sometimes means fewer medicines, not more.

For instance, patients with high blood pressure who have lost weight or are exercising more may find that they may no longer need blood pressure pills. Patients with heartburn who take proton-pump inhibitors (such as Nexium) may do just as well with a lower dose or occasional therapy. Patients who take medications for osteoporosis may be candidates for “drug holidays.”

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Are we Sleep-deprived or just Darkness-deprived?

Richard G 'Bugs' Stevens, University of Connecticut

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that insufficient sleep is a serious public health concern, because it can lead to many immediate dangers such as car crashes as well as long-term health problems like diabetes. The blame for sleep deprivation is often pinned on our fast-paced, 24/7 lifestyle, made possible by electric lighting at all times of day and night.

But are we really getting too little sleep?

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Hallucinogenic Honey Hunters

Nature's pollinator's can be quite the blessing, especially for a tribe in Nepal which hunts their wild honey laced with natural psychoactive properties. Referred to as "mad honey," the sticky substance is used as a medicine and soft drug, but can even lead to serious complications if abused. Dipak, the translator of this for this short clip takes a valuable lesson when he overdoses on some of the honey.

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