The Conversation: I watched hundreds of flat-Earth videos to learn how conspiracy theories spread

The Conversation: I watched hundreds of flat-Earth videos to learn how conspiracy theories spread. “By studying how flat Earthers talk about their beliefs, we can learn how they make their arguments engaging to their audience, and in turn, learn what makes disinformation spread online. In a recent study, my colleague Tomas Nilsson at Linnaeus University and I analysed hundreds of YouTube videos in which people argue that the Earth is flat. We paid attention to their debating techniques to understand the structure of their arguments and how they make them appear rational.”

NewsWise: No ‘Echo Chambers’ in Reddit Climate Debate

NewsWise: No ‘Echo Chambers’ in Reddit Climate Debate. “University of Exeter researchers examined the topics, information sources and the existence of different communities in Reddit climate discussions. They found little evidence of echo chambers – contrasting with previous research on Twitter which found discussions of climate change often occur within polarising echo chambers. However, the study did find evidence of polarisation, with the most common topic in climate-related posts and comments being “incivil debate” (containing name-calling and unfriendly language).”

Arizona State University: ‘Keeping It Civil’ podcast dedicated to improving civil discourse

Arizona State University: ‘Keeping It Civil’ podcast dedicated to improving civil discourse. “From a young age, Americans are often told to avoid controversial topics such as politics and race. But avoiding them altogether may have contributed to today’s political polarization. Instead, Americans should engage in civil discourse. That is the rationale behind the relaunch of the podcast ‘Keeping It Civil,’ a partnership between Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership (SCETL) and Arizona PBS. ‘Keeping It Civil’ is dedicated to creating space for disagreement on relevant topics and bridging political polarization through civil discourse.”

The Register: Is today’s AI yesterday’s software routines with better PR? We argued over it, you voted on it. And the winner is…

The Register: Is today’s AI yesterday’s software routines with better PR? We argued over it, you voted on it. And the winner is…. “How does that saying go? I’m not a cynic, I’m a realist. That’s pretty much how I’d sum up our first-ever Register Debate, which ran this week. Over the past few days, we pitted some of our vultures against each other, cajoled our dear readers into chiming in with your own comments, and took your votes on whose side you were on. The motion up for debate was: Artificial intelligence in the enterprise is just yesterday’s dumb algorithms rebranded as AI.”

MIT Technology Review: How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind

MIT Technology Review: How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind. “So how do you talk to a person who believes a conspiracy theory? This is something that the members of one of the internet’s most vibrant communities, r/ChangeMyView, deal with on a daily basis. This is the place on Reddit where people go to have their own beliefs challenged, and it is known as a calm, moderate place for debate. We asked some of its most active users, as well as some conspiracy theory researchers, for their tips.”

Patheos: New Social Media Site Aims To Promote Thoughtful And Nuanced Conversations

Patheos: New Social Media Site Aims To Promote Thoughtful And Nuanced Conversations. “Letter is a new website that rewards thoughtful discussion and hosts a variety of conversations. People write ‘letters’ back and forth to each other in a long style format. So anyone can read a variety of nuanced conversations happening on a variety of topics, but you don’t have to worry about trolls getting in and ruining the discussion.” Took a brief look at the site. What I saw I really liked, but there wasn’t a lot of content available yet.

Breaking News Ireland: Government adds social media’s impact on public debate as new risk factor to Ireland

Breaking News Ireland: Government adds social media’s impact on public debate as new risk factor to Ireland. “The impact of social media on public debate and the economy overheating have been identified as new risks to the country. The findings are from the Government’s National Risk Assessment, which has been published today, and which aims to take a birds-eye view of the biggest risks facing Ireland.”

Larry Ferlazzo: “All Sides” Offers Useful Materials & Simple Lesson Plans For “Controversial” Issues

Larry Ferlazzo: “All Sides” Offers Useful Materials & Simple Lesson Plans For “Controversial” Issues. “All Sides seems to have a lot of outsized purposes and goals, with a touch of naivete thrown-in about bringing folks with different viewpoints in conversation with one another. But it also does, indeed, have some materials that could be very useful to teachers.”

Futurism: IBM’s Debater AI Is Impressive, But It Won’t Conquer Humanity

Futurism: IBM’s Debater AI Is Impressive, But It Won’t Conquer Humanity. “We’re living in a strange time, when it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish a human from artificial intelligence. And, yes, it can be pretty uncanny. One recent example: Google’s demonstration of its Duplex technology, in which the software fooled an innocent (human) hairdresser into believing she was talking to a human on the phone. And now, IBM has taken things a step further by putting on a human-robot debate, setting its brand new Project Debater against Israeli professional debater Dan Zafrir.”

Wired: Our Best Hope For Civil Discourse Online Is On … Reddit

Wired: Our Best Hope For Civil Discourse Online Is On … Reddit . “CHANGE MY VIEW was the brainchild of Kal Turnbull, a musician who was just 17 when he launched the subreddit in 2013, roughly three years before intransigence became the guiding principle of all debate everywhere. As a high school senior, Turnbull could have been forgiven for digging in his heels on teen truisms like punk’s not dead or—he’s Scottish—alba gu bràth. Instead he rebelled against all sloganeering and groupthink.”

The Daily Dot: This is why Facebook arguments don’t work—according to science

The Daily Dot: This is why Facebook arguments don’t work—according to science . “Next time you’re inclined to spend hours arguing with a Facebook friend, or even a stranger, in the comments of a post, take a moment to close your laptop or shut off your phone screen. Why, you ask? Because according to science, you’d be better off listening to each other—literally—instead.”

EurekAlert: Conflicting views on social media balanced by an algorithm

EurekAlert: Conflicting views on social media balanced by an algorithm . “Social media has become an important news source for a majority of adults. A common complaint is that social media help create echo chambers in which people reading information do not expose themselves to different viewpoints but are often confined to their own. … Researchers from Aalto University and University of Rome Tor Vergata have designed an algorithm that is able to balance the information exposure so that social media users can be exposed to information from both sides of the discussion.”

Digital Trends: Future Chatbots Will Be Able To Argue With You Enough To Help Change Your Mind

Digital Trends: Future Chatbots Will Be Able To Argue With You Enough To Help Change Your Mind. “Artificial intelligence tools like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa don’t really try and change your mind too much, but maybe they should! That is the idea behind new research being carried out by Dr. Samira Shaikh, an assistant professor in Cognitive Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Computer Science. She developed a smart chatbot that’s goal is not just to carry out a conversation with users, but to actually engage them in arguments and counterarguments with the specific aim of changing a person’s mind.”