Good news: Misinformation isn’t as powerful as feared! Bad news: Neither is information.

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Recent news items have reminded us that we are not always as vulnerable to external stimuli as we may think. The so-called ‘hypodermic needle model’ of opinion change suggests that we can be easily swayed by information, yet recent research indicates that this is not necessarily the case. A study published in Nature found that a few Russian tweets had no significant effect on American’s opinion of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, while a book on the myths of American history focuses on the effects rather than the causes of these misconceptions. Read full article here

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The Priest in the Arena

The phrase “man in the arena” has been popularized in recent years, but a lesser known, more dangerous archetype is the “priest in the arena”. This figure is responsible for a process called theocratic capture, where an institution surrenders to a cult demanding unaccountable authority, fueled by claims to privileged knowledge. These cults often target powerful institutions and attempt to monopolize conversations with scaremongering tactics and hostile treatment of allies. It is important to identify and stop theocratic capture before it can gain control. Read full article here


Maps Distort How We See the World

Maps have a major impact on how we perceive the world, as they often distort reality. One example is the Mercator projection, which can make countries closer to the equator appear smaller than they actually are. Africa is an especially stark example, as it’s much larger than it appears on a map. This distortion can lead to a poor intuition for comparative region sizes, with Brazil being the most short-changed. It’s even big enough that its northernmost point is closer to Canada than its southernmost point! While international maps are chosen for good reasons, they can be deceitful. Read full article here

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