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Talking points: advertising works, violent movies and the dentist’s drill

David Hall and Star the reindeer cross the street in Anchorage amid an Alaskan snowstorm.

Bill Roth/Associated Press

ADVERTISING WORKS

Teen smokers believe slim cigarettes are stylish and safer than regular brands. As reported by The Independent, a survey by Cancer Research U.K. queried four dozen teen smokers from Glasgow about their views on eight cigarette brands differing in length, diameter, colour and design. The teens were most attracted to slim cigarettes with white filters and decorative features, describing them as "classy" and "nicer." The focus group also believed the thin cigarettes were more palatable and less harmful to human health. In truth, many slim brands contain more carcinogens than regular cigarettes.

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS

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It's not your imagination: Today's Hollywood movies really are more violent. Time.com reports on a new study that reveals gun-related violence in films has more than doubled since 1950. The study, from the University of Pennsylvania, used a sample of 945 movies that attained U.S. box-office success between 1950 and 2012. On average, gun violence appeared in the films more than twice an hour. Perhaps more alarmingly, the study showed that the incidence of gun-related violence in PG-13 movies now even bypasses the on-screen violence depicted in R-rated movies. "Violence sells," said study co-author Daniel Romer. "We recognize that and the movie industry realizes it. We just think that violence, especially the kind being shown, especially with guns, should be thought of a little more critically."

OPEN WIDE FOR ME

It's not the prospect of pain that makes people afraid of the dentist, it's the sound of the drill. The Daily Mail recaps an experiment from the Society of Neuroscience that tested how sound affects certain parts of the brain, particularly those linked to stress. Participants filled out a questionnaire on their dental anxieties and their brains were then scanned as they listened to audio of grinding drills and suction devices. Results: The "low-fear" group gave no indication of anxiety about going to the dentist; the "high-fear" group showed a response in the left caudate nucleus, an area of the brain associated with learning. Cognitive behavioural therapy might help patients with a strong fear of dental treatment, said pediatric dentist Hiroyuki Karibe.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

The penalty of success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you.

Nancy Astor, British MP and viscountess (1879-1964)

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