Taking Risks, Discovering Sunken Ships and More—In The News 9/24/18


In a fast-moving, ever-shifting world, news is continuously breaking. The Great Courses is here to help you understand the full story behind the soundbites. Here are a handful of stories from the week of September 24, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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Discovery of the Endeavour
The decades-long search for Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour has been narrowed down to one or two archaeological sites, in an area just off the Goat Island shore in Rhode Island, 10,500 miles from the country with which it is most famously associated. Get to know Captain James Cook, an explorer who in many ways epitomized the age of scientific discovery and—by filling in blank spots and correcting faulty maps—significantly advanced the representation of our world.

The New Debate about Low-Carb Eating
Low-carb diets have come in and out of fashion. However, a recent study suggests if you select a low-carb diet, you run the risk of premature death if you’re not choosing your carbs well. The research reveals that a low-carb diet is both more effective and potentially safer if you include more nuts and vegetables instead of meats and cheeses. Examine how the breakdown of carbohydrates provides the energy needed for all human functions, but how excess carbs can significantly disrupt good health.

Obesity Rates Grow
Obesity rates in seven states now meet or exceed 35%, up from five states just two years ago. Moreover, no state has yet to improve obesity rates year-over-year. Investigate the phenomenon of obesity in the United States and the social, environmental, and biological factors that may explain its dramatic increase. From the range of approaches to weight loss and management, consider realistic strategies for success.

The Risk-Taking Brain
Researchers may have uncovered the small region in the prefrontal cortex that is associated with risk-taking. Researchers studied the decisions of monkeys in forming decisions that resulted in getting greater or smaller amounts of fruit juice. Learn how behavioral economics evaluates “risk-aversion” and “risk-seeking” in both economic and personal contexts and grasp the role of perceived benefits and perceived risks in explaining risk-taking behaviors and choices.

Flu Shot Season
How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season, with the estimates of success varying based on study design, outcomes measured, population studied, and the season in which the vaccine was studied. Even with that uncertainty, vaccines are perhaps the safest and most-effective preventive health measure ever devised. Learn the history of vaccination, what types of vaccines doctors use to stave off specific diseases, and why some people still question whether this technique works.

The Struggle of Memoir
Karl Ove Knausgaard took the idea of a memoir to an entirely new level with a sixth—and final—volume of My Struggle, a 1,200-page deep dive into his life, friends, struggles, and confessions. Don’t let his ambition scare you off from tackling your own memoir. Get numerous tips to help you recreate your memories and turn them into fascinating pieces of writing, as you learn techniques that allow you to get as detailed as possible in your descriptions while still maintaining a central focus.

We will be diligently monitoring current events and sharing updates on a regular basis, linking the latest headlines to our courses, so you can get the context, history, background, deeper meaning, and—especially—the facts. Our goal is to help our lifelong learners apply the knowledge they gain from our courses to the real world and become better-informed citizen about the present-day issues that concern us all.