Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

The Week in Higher Education: News

Article excerpt

- Since ancient times philosophers have furrowed their brows over the so-called liar paradox. Simply put, if someone tells you they are a habitual liar, can you believe them? If they are telling the truth then, as habitual liars, they must be lying. But if they are lying about being a liar then they must be telling the truth. (Yes, our heads hurt, too.) However, The Daily Telegraph reported on 14 December that University of Amsterdam scientists have taken a sword to that thorny logical thicket by sitting volunteers in a booth with a die and a wad of cash. They found liars to be typically honest about being fibbers, and suggest that their cheerful admissions might be caused by the higher prevalence among them of "psychopathic" traits, such as a lack of remorse. Or maybe not. As everything in this column is a lie we may never be sure.

- As Christmas nears, the papers soak up booze-related stories like sponges. On 13 December, The Daily Telegraph reported a claim in a British Medical Journal paper that James Bond's martini intake - 92 units a week - would, in real life, have made him useless in a car chase or as a seducer and would have killed him off by his mid-fifties - an age at which Sir Roger Moore was still strutting his stuff in the role. A day later, The Times reported a Finnish study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggesting that intelligent people are more likely to be boozers. This is because "peer influences and the tendency to seek novel experiences could link better verbal development with drinking behaviours". (The meaning of that sentence will no doubt become clear after a few glasses of eggnog.)

- Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge will not be feeling festive after being castigated for the organisation's guidance on gender- segregated events. A controversial case study in the guidance, which suggested segregation could be permitted if it was voluntary, was withdrawn last week after being criticised by David Cameron. Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said on 16 December that hearing Ms Dandridge - a qualified lawyer who used to head the Equality Challenge Unit - defend the guidance on Radio 4's Today programme had made her throw a glass of water at the radio. …

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