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Cancer Mythologies: The Problem with Making Things Up is Getting Worse
 





|| April 29: 2018: UCL News ||ά. Mistaken belief in mythical causes of cancer is rife, according to new research from UCL and the University of Leeds. The findings, published in the European Journal of Cancer, show that out of 1,330 people in England more than 40% wrongly thought that stress, 43% and food additives, 42%, caused cancer. A third incorrectly believed that electromagnetic frequencies, 35% and eating GM food, 34%, were risk factors, while 19% thought microwave ovens and 15% said drinking from plastic bottles caused cancer despite a lack of good scientific evidence.

Among the proven causes of cancer, 88% of people correctly selected smoking, 80% picked passive smoking and 60% said sunburn. Belief in mythical causes of cancer did not mean a person was more likely to have risky lifestyle habits. But those, who had better knowledge of proven causes were more likely not to smoke. Dr Lion Shahab, UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health, said, “People’s beliefs are so important because they have an impact on the lifestyle choices they make. Those with better awareness of proven causes of cancer were more likely not to smoke and to eat more fruit and vegetables.”

Dr Samuel Smith from the University of Leeds, said, “It’s worrying to see so many people endorse risk factors for which there is no convincing evidence. Compared to past research it appears the number of people believing in unproven causes of cancer has increased since the start of the century, which could be a result of changes to how we access news and information through the internet and social media.

It’s vital to improve public education about the causes of cancer, if, we want to help people make informed decisions about their lives and ensure they aren’t worrying unnecessarily.”

Ms Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK, said, “Around four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes so it’s crucial we have the right information to help us separate the wheat from the chaff.

Smoking, being overweight and overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds are the biggest preventable causes of cancer. There is no guarantee against getting cancer but by knowing the biggest risk factors we can stack the odds in our favour to help reduce our individual risk of the disease, rather than wasting time worrying about fake news.”

This work was supported by a Cancer Research UK and Bupa Foundation Innovation Award. ::: ω.

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Narratives are Created: One for the Purpose of Understanding the Meaning of Human Existence and One for the Purposes of Directing Manipulating and Herding the Mass: That is Why There is Ethics Involved in It: That is Why Professor Hanna Meretoja's Book The Ethics of Story Telling is Timely: Her Book is Discussed at a Symposium at the University of East London Stratford: May 11

 

 

|| March 26: 2018: University of Turku News: Maria Vasenkari Writing || ά. Cultural models of sense-making shape our views about who we are and who we could be, what is possible for us as individuals and as communities. Professor Hanna Meretoja’s new book, The Ethics of Storytelling, provides us with tools for analysing cultural narrative models and understanding the power of literary narratives to expand our sense of the possible. The Ethics of Storytelling was published in the book launch organised by the Literature Departments of the University of Turku on March 14. Professor Meretoja’s book will be discussed at the Centre for Narrative Research at the University of East London, University Square, Stratford Campus, London. The Centre organises a symposium around The Ethics of Storytelling on  May 11.

The event involves a roundtable in which the book is to be discussed by Professor Matti Hyvärinen, Dr Maarit Leskelä-Kärki, Professor Jakob Lothe, Professor Ann Phoenix and Professor Brian Schiff. ​The Ethics of Storytelling: Narrative Hermeneutics, History and the Possible, a new research monograph by Professor Hanna Meretoja, of Comparative Literature at the University of Turku, Finland, brings into dialogue narrative ethics, literary narrative studies, narrative psychology, narrative philosophy and cultural memory studies. The book was published by Oxford University Press. The discussion on the ethical significance of storytelling has been dominated by polarised views on the benefits and dangers of narrative.

Against the backdrop of this debate, Professor Meretoja develops narrative hermeneutics as a nuanced theoretical-analytical framework for engaging with the ethical complexity of the roles narratives play in our lives. ''The ethical potential of literature is crucially linked to the ways in which literary narratives open up new possibilities of thought, experience, action and imagination and cultivate our awareness of and sensitivity to different perspectives.'' Professor Meretoja argues.

The key question in the book is how literary and historical narratives shape our sense of the possible. ''The sense of the possible refers to our sense of what was or is possible to experience, think, feel and do in a certain historical and cultural world. Our sense of the possible, also, concerns our ability to imagine how things could be otherwise.'' Professor Meretoja explains. She argues that our sense of the possible is shaped by the relationship between our narrative unconscious and narrative imagination.

''Cultural narrative models shape how we perceive, for example, good life, gender and success and they condition our actions and attitudes without our awareness. Literary narratives, that make such narrative models visible can enrich our narrative imagination and help us gain critical distance from culturally available narrative identities.

Professor Meretoja analyses literary and autobiographical narratives, that deal with 20th century historical traumas. Most important of these narratives are Julia Franck’s The Blind Side of the Heart 2007, Günter Grass’s Peeling the Onion 2006, Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones 2007 and David Grossman’s To the End of the Land 2008 and Falling Out of Time 2011.

''In dialogue with these narratives, I address our implication in violent histories and argue that it is as dialogic storytellers, fundamentally, vulnerable and dependent on one another, where we become who we are, both as individuals and communities.''' Professpr Meretoja summarises.

The legacy of the Holocaust and the Second World War shows the dangerous power of storytelling. ''The Nazis built a mythology, that provided the Germans with a strong narrative identity as 'Aryans' but, at the same time, it, drastically, diminished the possibilities of the Jews and several other minorities to the point of denying them the right to live. In the book, the European legacy of fascism is discussed in relation to more recent political turmoil, such as, the Israel-Palestine conflict and the rise of right-wing populist narratives.

''In order to understand the atrocities of the past, such as, the Holocaust, and contemporary terrorism, we should, instead of demonising the evil-doers, try to imagine not only the perspectives and experiential world of the victims but, also, that of the perpetrators and various implicated subjects. Only then can we properly engage with the conditions, that made the atrocities possible.

The book develops a heuristic model for evaluating the ethical potential and dangers of different kinds of narratives. It provides six evaluative continuums on which narratives can be placed. These continuums explore whether narratives i: expand or diminish our sense of the possible; ii: develop or distort our self-understanding; iii: promote or impair our ability to understand the experiences of others in their singularity; iv: participate in building inclusive or exclusive narrative in-betweens; v: cultivate or impede our perspective-awareness and vi: function as a form of ethical inquiry or dogmatism. Instead of binaries, these are differentiating continuums on which different narrative practices can be placed. They provide us with analytic tools to engage with the narrative dimension of human existence in all its complexity.

On February 06, the Narrative Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association:AERA awarded Professor Hanna Meretoja the Early Career Award for her 'substantive contributions and commitment to narrative research' and for 'her work with a large cohort of graduate students'. The award is designed to 'recognize a researcher’s outstanding accomplishment in the area of narrative research'.

Caption: Centre image of Professor Hanna Meretoja by Maria Vasenkari

Further information on the book

:: The text is Creative Commons licensed and it is free to use. Please attribute the work to the University of Turku:: ω.

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Trafficking and Migration Continue From St Patrick's Time: Actually Migration Began When Adam and Eve Were Thrown Out of Eden Onto the Earth: What was Jesus Christ Himself If Not a Refugee and Most Importantly Unless Humanity and Compassion Were Shown to Mary and Joseph What Would Have Happened to Jesus: We Want to Make Things Sound Modern and Post Modern and Ultra Modern So We Invent Things Such as Migration This and Trafficking That: How Did Slavery Get Started and Spread Unless It was Originated From Trafficking

 

 

|| March 16: 2018: University College Cork News || ά. People trafficking, war, famine and displacement of people are not unique to the 21st century as in the fifth century, when St Patrick was trafficked to Ireland, where his life was one of hardship and migration according to Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí, migration expert at University College Cork. St Patrick’s life story is known through his own extraordinary autobiographical account, The Confessio. ''My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there and that is where I was taken prisoner.

I was about sixteen at the time.…I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others. …The Lord brought his strong anger upon us and scattered us among many nations even to the ends of the earth.'' ''The 21st century is seeing new waves of people displaced by war, famine and climate change. “Indeed, it would be fair to describe migration as one of the existential challenges of the age.” says Dr Mac Éinrí, Department of Geography and Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century at UCC. So far, we are not handling it with great success in Ireland or the EU Dr Mac Éinrí rightly points out. “Barriers are going up everywhere and people are, even, being denied their legal right to seek refuge.

Racism and xenophobia are stronger now than at any time since the 1930s.” he says. “The Irish record in the diaspora is not always the best either. Imagine, if, we were at the receiving end?” poses Dr Mac Éinrí. “We were, once, as on June 20, 1631, a pirate raiding party kidnapped over 100 English and Irish people from the village of Baltimore in West Cork and took them to a life of slavery in North Africa. Some spent their days as galley slaves, others became prisoners of the Sultan. At most, three of them saw Ireland again.

The Pope’s comments on trafficking in February this year are worthy of note.” Dr Mac Éinrí says. The Pope told his weekly general audience, ''Having few possible legal channels, many migrants decide to risk other avenues, where often there awaits abuse of every kind, exploitation and slavery.”

Criminal organisations specialised in trafficking people take advantage of migratory flows 'to hide their victims among migrants and refugees' he added. In an appeal, the Pope invited everyone to 'join forces to prevent trafficking and guarantee protection and assistance to victims'. He prayed to give 'those suffering because of this shameful scourge the hope to regain freedom'.

“These words should resonate in the Irish context.” Dr Mac Éinrí says. “The more than one million Irish, who fled famine and disease in the mid-19th century, at least, had places to go. Even, if, they were sometimes received grudgingly, calls to ‘build that wall!’, if, there were any, went unheeded. Their circumstances were miserable but they were not denounced as murderers, thieves and rapists by the highest politicians of the day.'' Dr
Mac Éinrí says.