Should information be free?

Should information be shared freely? That is, should content (text, images, videos, etc.) be shared without external control? Shared at no additional cost? Or, should information be controlled, manipulated, and limited–in the name of profit and/or ideology? There is no purity in this debate. All information has a cost, and often it is quite expensive. Producers of information may choose to give it away, others…

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black and white thinking

The thinking error that makes people susceptible to climate change denial

Jeremy P. Shapiro, Case Western Reserve University (The Conversation). Cold spells often bring climate change deniers out in force on social media, with hashtags like #ClimateHoax and #ClimateScam. Former President Donald Trump often chimes in, repeatedly claiming that each cold snap disproves the existence of global warming. From a scientific standpoint, these claims of disproof are absurd. Fluctuations in the weather don’t refute clear long-term…

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ChatGPT and generative AI: What is it all about?

ChatGPT and generative AI (artificial intelligence): a quick primer … *Heaven, W.D. (2023). ChatGPT is everywhere. Here’s where it came from: OpenAI’s breakout hit was an overnight sensation—but it is built on decades of research. MIT Technology Review. “We’ve reached peak ChatGPT. Released at the end of November [2022] as a web app by the San Francisco–based firm OpenAI, the chatbot exploded into the mainstream…

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Mental models: misinformation and truth

“A mental model is a form of mental representation for mechanical–causal domains that affords explanations for these domains. Mental models contain mental representations of objects in space and the causal relations among the objects. The structure of the mental representation corresponds to the structure of the world. This analogical relation allows the mental model to make successful predictions about events in the world. The term…

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Propaganda and deception in politics

Propaganda “is communication that is deliberately designed by one group in society to influence the attitudes and behavior of others. It often uses symbolism and rhetoric and appeals to the emotional and irrational aspects of our sensibility” (Propaganda. (2006). In D. G. Lilleker, Key concepts in political communication. Sage UK.). Propaganda has been around for thousands of years, since at least the time of the…

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Buying into conspiracy theories can be exciting – that’s what makes them dangerous

Donovan Schaefer, University of Pennsylvania (from The Conversation) Conspiracy theories have been around for centuries, from witch trials and antisemitic campaigns to beliefs that Freemasons were trying to topple European monarchies. In the mid-20th century, historian Richard Hofstadter described a “paranoid style” that he observed in right-wing U.S. politics and culture: a blend of “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” But the “golden age” of…

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