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Daily Archives: December 20, 2023

Why people still fall for fake news about climate change

Grist: “In 1995, a leading group of scientists convened by the United Nations declared that they had detected a “human influence” on global temperatures with “effectively irreversible” consequences. In the coming decades, 99.9 percent of scientists would come to agree that burning fossil fuels had disrupted the Earth’s climate. Yet almost 30 years after that warning, during the hottest year on Earth in 125,000 years, people are still arguing that the science is unreliable, or that the threat is real but we shouldn’t do anything about climate change. Conspiracies are thriving online, according to a report by the coalition Climate Action Against Disinformation released last month, in time for the U.N. climate conference in Dubai. Over the past year, posts with the hashtag #climatescam have gotten more likes and retweets on the platform known as X than ones with #climatecrisis or #climateemergency. By now, anyone looking out the window can see flowers blooming earlier and lakes freezing later. Why, after all this time, do 15 percent of Americans fall for the lie that global warming isn’t happening? And is there anything that can be done to bring them around to reality? New research suggests that understanding why fake news is compelling to people can tell us something about how to defend ourselves against it. People buy into bad information for different reasons, said Andy Norman, an author and philosopher who co-founded the Mental Immunity Project, which aims to protect people from manipulative information. Due to quirks of psychology, people can end up overlooking inconvenient facts when confronted with arguments that support their beliefs. “The more you rely on useful beliefs at the expense of true beliefs, the more unhinged your thinking becomes,” Norman said. Another reason people are drawn to conspiracies is that they feel like they’re in on a big, world-transforming secret: Flat Earthers think they’re seeing past the illusions that the vast majority don’t.”

The lives upended by Florida’s school book wars

Washington Post (read free): “…The battle over what children should be allowed to read in school has riven Florida’s Escambia County School District. It’s part of a national battle, as school book objections surge to historic highs across the country. In Escambia County, the controversy kicked off in 2022, when a high school language arts… Continue Reading

Lawrence school district using AI to look for ‘concerning behavior’ in students’ activity (read free): “The Lawrence [Kansas] school district has purchased a new system that uses artificial intelligence to look for warning signs of “concerning behavior” in the things students type, send and search for on their district-issued computers and other such devices. The purchase of the software system, called Gaggle, comes at a time when… Continue Reading

GPT and other AI models can’t analyze an SEC filing

CNBC: “Large language models, similar to the one at the heart of ChatGPT, frequently fail to answer questions derived from Securities and Exchange Commission filings, researchers from a startup called Patronus AI found. Even the best-performing artificial intelligence model configuration they tested, OpenAI’s GPT-4-Turbo, when armed with the ability to read nearly an entire filing… Continue Reading

Wireless TVs use built-in cameras, NFC readers to sell you stuff you see on TV

Ars Technica: “It’s no secret that TV makers are seriously invested in pushing ads. Using TVs for advertising goes back to 1941 when the first TV commercial aired. But as we trudge our way through the 21st century, TV vendors are becoming more involved in ensuring that their hardware is used to sell stuff and… Continue Reading

Is your search experience leaving you a little unsatisfied?

“Give these Search Tweaks a try. This site has sixteen tools for enhancing Google search in four categories — Query Builders, News-Related Search, Time-Related Search, and Search Utilities. Some tools, like Back that Ask Up, make existing Google features easier to use. Others, like Marion’s Monocle, add search functionality. Hold your mouse over each menu… Continue Reading

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2023

LitHub: “Welcome, fellow haters, to another bilious edition of the Most Scathing Book Reviews of the Year. As longtime readers of this annual feature will know, each year in the run up to the holidays, we (the normally benevolent stewards of make a sacrificial offering to the literary criticism gods in the hope of… Continue Reading