Conspiratorial ideation is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organisations. Many of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence or demonstrably false, yet public acceptance remains high. Efforts to convince the general public of the validity of medical and scientific findings can be hampered by such narratives, which can create the impression of doubt or disagreement in areas where the science is well established. Conversely, historical examples of exposed conspiracies do exist and it may be difficult for people to differentiate between reasonable and dubious assertions. In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy. Parameters for the model are estimated from literature examples of known scandals, and the factors influencing conspiracy success and failure are explored. The model is also used to estimate the likelihood of claims from some commonly-held conspiratorial beliefs; these are namely that the moon-landings were faked, climate-change is a hoax, vaccination is dangerous and that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by vested interests. Simulations of these claims predict that intrinsic failure would be imminent even with the most generous estimates for the secret-keeping ability of active participants—the results of this model suggest that large conspiracies (≥1000 agents) quickly become untenable and prone to failure. The theory presented here might be useful in counteracting the potentially deleterious consequences of bogus and anti-science narratives, and examining the hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible.
The Crusaders had just returned from their global treks, having established trade routes through which the goods of many lands could travel. They also returned with new technologies for agriculture and trade, including the bazaar—a marketplace for the exchange of crafts, crops, grain, and meat that used new financial instruments such as grain receipts and market money.
But as the peasants got wealthy exchanging goods and services, the aristocracy got relatively poorer. So they re-established control over the economy by outlawing market moneys and chartering monopolies with dominion over particular industries. So now, instead of making shoes himself, the local cobbler had to get a job at the officially chartered monopoly company. Thus what we think of as “employment” was born—less an opportunity than a restriction on creating value.
We have figured out the rules of creating sleek sophistication. We know, more or less, how to get it right. Now, we need a shift in perspective that allows us to move forward. We need a pole right through a horse's head. We need to enter the third stage of this cycle. It's time to stop figuring out how to do things the right way, and start getting it wrong.
The efforts of Russia and China to fundamentally alter the internet's current governing model or wrest its architecture from Western influence is not likely to succeed in the foreseeable future. Opposition to any future domestic network-security policies could also hamper such measures. China already has had to backpedal on some policies, such as forcing its banking institutions to abandon foreign technologies, in the past year.
But their calls for multilateral internet governance and government control over network security likely will find some measure of success. China's attempt to resist Western influence will certainly continue; that strategy is tied to Beijing's economic ambitions to expand into high-tech industries. Russia will likely feel a growing need to control the exchange of information over networks in its territory as it prepares for potential unrest amid a steep economic decline. Global concerns about network security will provide both countries with a pretext to pursue their efforts.
They want to police social norms so that hurtful comments are no longer tolerated and so that real bigotry is given no tacit support. Of course, at some level, they are right. Callous statements in the mainstream can lead to hostile behavior on the edge. That’s why we don’t tolerate Holocaust denial.
But when you witness how this movement is actually being felt on campus, you can’t help noticing that it sometimes slides into a form of zealotry. If you read the website of the group FIRE, which defends free speech on campus, if you read Kirsten Powers’s book, “The Silencing,” if you read Judith Shulevitz’s essay “In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas” that was published in The Times in Sunday Review on March 22, you come across tales of professors whose lives are ruined because they made innocent remarks; you see speech codes that inhibit free expression; you see reputations unfairly scarred by charges of racism and sexism.
KPCB’s Mary Meeker presents the 2015 Internet Trends report, 20 years after the inaugural “The Internet Report” was first published in 1995. Since then, the number of Internet users has risen from 35 million in 1995 to more than 2.8 billion today.
The 82nd (and final!) column in a series that debunks the Web's hoaxes, rumors and exagerations.
"Institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it’s demonstrably fake."
Full seasons, released all at once, are something genuinely new. And we’re just starting to figure out their conventions and aesthetics.
Andrey Miroshnichenko's insight:
With those new mechanics comes a new relationship with the audience. Traditional television — what the jargonmeisters now call “linear TV” — assumes that your time is scarce and it has you for a few precious hours before bed. The streaming services assume they own your free time, whenever it comes — travel, holidays, weekends — to fill with five- and 10-hour entertainments.
They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are. Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status.
"In the 2030s," said Ray, "we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neocortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smartphones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we'll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud."
But the robots that are really ruining Twitter aren’t these wholly automated fakers. They’re the semi-automated fakers: us. Many of us have long used tools that allow us to expedite our social media posting; for example, I’ve used Buffer and HootSuite for several years to pace my tweets and keep my social media presence active. But now these companies not only offer the ability to schedule tweets; they also can suggest tweets for you to post.
Artificial intelligence, robotics and new disruptive technology are challenging white-collar professions that previously seemed invulnerable.
Andrey Miroshnichenko's insight:
Associated Press has run an experiment of automatically creating corporate earnings reports since June 2014 with software from Automated Insights and data from Zacks Investment Research. After working through problems at the outset, the process is virtually error-free, which likely beats what humans would do.
Internet censorship has evolved. In Version 1.0, censorship was impossible; in Version 2.0, it was a characteristic of repressive regimes; and in Version 3.0, it spread to democracies who desired to use technology to restrain unwanted information. Its latest iteration, Version 3.1, involves near-ubiquitous censorship by democratic and authoritarian countries alike. This Article argues that the new censorship model involves four changes: a shift in implementation to private parties; a hybrid approach mixing promotion of favored viewpoints with suppression of disfavored ones; a blend of formal mandates with informal pressures; and a framing of censorship using uncontroversial labels. It suggests a set of responses to censorship that cabin its abuses and push it towards more legitimate methods: focusing on governmental restrictions, insisting on labeling censorship as such, supporting distributed Internet governance, demanding a default right of access to information, and addressing corporate involvement.
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