The Health Benefits of Intoxication

New medical claims have brought once illicit drugs back into fashion, argues Cambridge University fellow Victoria Harris, showing how capricious our attitudes toward drugs really are. 

What's the Latest Development?


Socially accepted intoxicants like alcohol and tobacco are facing a new wave of government regulation as policy makers try to control the economic toll exacted by an unhealthy citizenry. Meanwhile, new research has found that psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin mushrooms effectively treat conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. Cambridge University fellow Victoria Harris says that in addition to medical data, cultural norms play a strong role in determining which drugs society will ultimately allow its members to consume. 

What's the Big Idea?

Harris draws on the history of German pharmaceutical companies, which during the age of tuberculosis produced two new medicines to alleviate symptoms of the cough. One was today's ubiquitous aspirin, the other was heroin. Harris argues that "Germany’s heavily interventionist state structure made regulating consumption rituals and the trade of products between companies and citizens relatively simple and acceptable." The English and American societies, by contrast, emphasized a liberal individualism which placed emphasis on criminalizing personal possession. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Keep reading Show less