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        • Stability“Insider” Knowledge to Enhance Stability Operations in Remote Regions

          U.S. forces operating in remote, under-governed regions around the world often find that an area’s distinct cultural and societal practices are opaque to outsiders, but are obvious to locals. Commanders can be hindered from making optimal decisions because they lack knowledge of how local socio-economic, political, religious, health, and infrastructure factors interact to shape a specific community. DARPA’s Habitus program seeks to provide commanders with “insider” knowledge of local environments.

        • Truth decayHow Partisan Hostility Leads People to Believe Falsehoods

          Researchers now have a better idea of why people who rely on partisan news outlets are more likely to believe falsehoods about political opponents. And no, it isn’t because these consumers live in media “bubbles” where they aren’t exposed to the truth. Instead, it has to do with how partisan media promote hostility against their rivals.

        • Truth decayFlagging False Facebook Posts as Satire Helps Reduce Belief

          If you want to convince people not to trust an inaccurate political post on Facebook, labeling it as satire can help, a new study finds. Researchers found that flagging inaccurate political posts because they had been disputed by fact-checkers or fellow Facebook users was not as good at reducing belief in the falsehoods or stopping people from sharing them. However, labeling inaccurate posts as being humor, parody or a hoax did reduce Facebook users’ belief in the falsehoods and resulted in significantly less willingness to share the posts.

        • Truth decayFake News: Emotions and Experiences, Not More Data, Could Be the Antidote

          By David Knights and Torkild Thanem

          At a time when public debate around the world is suffering from a collision between facts and “alternative facts”, experts must find new ways to reach people. For example: Donald Trump has made more than 12,000 false or misleading statements since becoming U.S. president, and yet, he remains immensely popular with his political base, which is energized by his emotional and often aggressive displays. No amount of raw data appears capable of changing their minds. While it may seem fitting to challenge post-truth politics with quantitative research, statistical data and hard facts, this is unlikely always to be sufficient. If social scientists care about being relevant in the struggle against post-truth politics, they cannot merely rely on quantitative data and raw facts. They also need to do research that connects to, brings to life and fleshes out the struggles of people in everyday life.

        • Truth decaySearching for Truth: Q&A with Jennifer Kavanagh

          Senior RAND political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh helps lead RAND’s work on “Truth Decay,” the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. Her research has helped set a national agenda to better understand and combat the problem, to explore its historical precedents, and to mitigate its consequences.

        • Conspiracy theoriesTruth prevails: Sandy Hook father’s victory over conspiracy theory crackpots

          Noah Pozner, then 6-year old, was the youngest of twenty children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Last week, his father, Lenny Pozner, won an important court victory against conspiracy theorists who claimed the massacre had been staged by the Obama administration to promote gun control measures. The crackpots who wrote a book advancing this preposterous theory also claimed that Pozner had faked his son’s death certificate as part of this plot.

        • Conspiracy theoryConspiracy theories and the people who believe in them: Book review

          By Max Burda

          In Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe in Them, Joseph Uscinski presents a collection that brings together contributors to offer an wide-ranging take on conspiracy theories, examining them as historical phenomena, psychological quirks, expressions of power relations an political instruments. While this is an interesting and expansive volume, it overlooks the conundrum posed by conspiracy theories that succeed in capturing the epistemological authorities.

        • Truth decayTech fixes cannot protect us from disinformation campaigns

          More than technological fixes are needed to stop countries from spreading disinformation on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, according to two experts. They argue that policymakers and diplomats need to focus more on the psychology behind why citizens are so vulnerable to disinformation campaigns.

        • Truth decayRise of European populism linked to vaccine hesitancy

          There is a significant association between the rise of populism across Europe and the level of mistrust around vaccines, according to a new study. “It seems likely that scientific populism is driven by similar feelings to political populism, for example, a profound distrust of elites and experts by disenfranchised and marginalized parts of the population,” says the study’s lead author. “Even where programs objectively improve the health of targeted populations, they can be viewed with suspicion by communities that do not trust elites and experts.”

        • DeradicalizationDeradicalization and countering violent extremism

          Since the early 2000s, more than fifty countries have developed initiatives to counter violent extremism (CVE). Despite this, there still remains a lack of strong evidence on which interventions are effective. Researchers have reviewed the literature on CVE programs to give examples of what good CVE practice should look like.

        • Video games & violenceViolent video games not associated with adolescent aggression: Study

          Researchers have found no relationship between aggressive behavior in teenagers and the amount of time spent playing violent video games. “The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time,” says lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute. “Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

        • TerrorismThe group dynamics that make terrorist teams work

          By Matthias Spitzmuller

          Acts of terrorism are harrowing and can cause extensive damage and tragic deaths, and they have been occurring with alarming frequency over the last decade. Scholars, governments and analysts have spent a lot of time exploring individual motivations of terrorists. However, terrorist activities are typically performed by groups, not isolated individuals. Examining the role of team dynamics in terrorist activities can elucidate how terrorist teams radicalize, organize and make decisions. There is a common misconception in the West that leaders of terrorist groups are recruiting and brainwashing people into giving up their lives to establish a new political order. This is an incorrect model that has been vastly exaggerated in the media, based on a Western understanding of leadership.

        • ViolenceNo link found between violent video games and behavior

          Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent. In a series of experiments, with more than 3,000 participants, the team demonstrated that video game concepts do not ‘prime’ players to behave in certain ways and that increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in game players.

        • Truth decayThe manipulation of social media metadata

          Bad actors manipulate metadata to create effective disinformation campaigns. and a new study provides tips for researchers and technology companies trying to spot this “data craft.” “Data craft” is the term the report’s author uses to describe all those “practices that create, rely on, or even play with the proliferation of data on social media by engaging with new computational and algorithmic mechanisms of organization and classification.”

        • Conspiracy theoryWho believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory

          The Apollo moon landing was staged. The CIA killed JFK. 9/11 was a plot by the U.S. government to justify a war in the Middle East. President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen. The massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged as a pretense for increased gun control. The “deep state” is trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them. What draws people to conspiracy theories? New research suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

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