Updated: Chatbots — propaganda is being taught how to speak

Bots–“simple computer scripts–were originally designed to automate repetitive tasks … sparing humans hours of tedium.”  But, bots “can also be used to operate large numbers of fake [social media] accounts, which makes them ideal for manipulating people.” As became evident after the 2016 election in the United States and from many other examples, not only do bot-operated fake social media accounts “broadcast extremist viewpoints,” but…

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Voter suppression and nonvoting is a social norm in the United States

Read this — it’s important! The United States prides itself on being a model for democracy. And, yet, widespread (and increasing) voter suppression and high rates of nonvoting have occurred for so long in the US that they have become accepted and a social norm. As a representative democracy, the US compares unfavorably with many places in the world. If you are a minority or…

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Updated: A new world disorder?

It may seem like absolutely everyone today is glued to their phones and uses social media incessantly. Facebook, the largest social media network globally, claims “over 2.7 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020.” Billions do use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), but billions also do not. Further, there are many people counted as “active users” who simply are…

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Preterm birth and kidney disease: the risk

“Preterm birth (<37 gestational weeks) interrupts the development and maturation of the kidneys during a critical growth period. The third trimester of pregnancy is the most active period of fetal nephrogenesis [development of the kidney], during which more than 60% of nephrons [the functional units of the kidney] are formed.” Interruption of this process results in a lower nephron number that is lifelong. “Lower nephron…

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Updated: In-group bias is ingrained in humans

Adults and children–even children as young as three–“are really quick to sort themselves into … social groups and to form a preference for their in-group.” This tendency has been found in people–again, even children–across “gender, race or ethnicity, language, nationality, and religion.” Decades of research indicate that in-group favoritism occurs even when the group is based on very superficial criteria; the group does not have…

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Updated: Prejudice, discrimination and social norms

News: Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, continues to make and post derogatory statements that are based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and a host of other things. The fact that the (former) highest elected official in the United States, a position with immense influence in the U.S. and in other countries, makes and made these statements on a regular basis creates…

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