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27 Aug 18:52

Google Study Finds Psychological 'Inoculation' Can Improve Resistance to Misinformation

by EditorDavid
Are there better ways to fight misinformation? "Researchers at Google, the University of Cambridge and the University of Bristol tested a different approach that tries to undermine misinformation before people see it," reports the New York Times. (Alternate URL here.) Instead of using the term "debunking," they're calling it "pre-bunking...." The researchers found that psychologically "inoculating" internet users against lies and conspiracy theories — by pre-emptively showing them videos about the tactics behind misinformation — made people more skeptical of falsehoods afterward, according to an academic paper published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.... The users were taught about tactics such as scapegoating and deliberate incoherence, or the use of conflicting explanations to assert that something is true, so that they could spot lies. Researchers tested some participants within 24 hours of seeing a pre-bunk video and found a 5 percent increase in their ability to recognize misinformation techniques. One video opens with a mournful piano tune and a little girl grasping a teddy bear, as a narrator says, "What happens next will make you tear up." Then the narrator explains that emotional content compels people to pay more attention than they otherwise would, and that fear-mongering and appeals to outrage are keys to spreading moral and political ideas on social media. The video offers examples, such as headlines that describe a "horrific" accident instead of a "serious" one, before reminding viewers that if something they see makes them angry, "someone may be pulling your strings." Beth Goldberg, one of the paper's authors and the head of research and development at Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Google, said in an interview that pre-bunking leaned into people's innate desire to not be duped. "This is one of the few misinformation interventions that I've seen at least that has worked not just across the conspiratorial spectrum but across the political spectrum," Ms. Goldberg said. Jigsaw will start a pre-bunking ad campaign on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok at the end of August for users in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, meant to head off fear-mongering about Ukrainian refugees who entered those countries after Russia invaded Ukraine. It will be done in concert with local fact checkers, academics and disinformation experts. The researchers don't have plans for similar pre-bunking videos ahead of the midterm elections in the United States, but they are hoping other tech companies and civil groups will use their research as a template for addressing misinformation.... The effects of pre-bunking last for only between a few days and a month.... The researchers wrote that pre-bunking worked like medical immunization: "Pre-emptively warning and exposing people to weakened doses of misinformation can cultivate 'mental antibodies' against fake news."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

21 Dec 14:29

Caribou Coffee notifies customers of data breach

by Jackie Crosby
The retailer said 265 company-owned stores were tied to the breach.
06 May 21:06

Warmest day of 2017 so far; weird jet stream pattern

by Paul Huttner

Thermometers surged Friday afternoon across Minnesota. A balmy bubble of early May warmth shoved all the way to the Canadian border.

Oklahoma Mesonet

Oklahoma Mesonet

This is the warmest day so far this year in the Twin Cities and much of the Upper Midwest.

Cooler by the lake

One thing you can usually count on near Lake Superior? A “refreshing” breeze.

Most of Minnesota basked in June-like glory. Along the North Shore temperatures hovered in the 30s and 40s near the big water Friday.

Beautiful weekend

A weak cool front blowing through Minnesota tonight acts as a temperature speed bump this weekend. It’s still going to be glorious, but temps will hover in the 60s this weekend. 70s returns early next week.

My kind of cool front.

NOAA via Weather Bell

NOAA via Weather Bell

Patchy frost Sunday morning?

Sunday looks like the coolest morning of the next few weeks, maybe the rest of the season. Some patchy frost looks likely north and east of the twin Cities Sunday morning. Otherwise the forecast is all weather rainbows and unicorns.

Wet pattern south and east

The Twin Cities bagged nearly 5 inches of rainfall in the past month. It’s been drier as you move north and west across Minnesota into the Dakotas. But heavy rains have caused flooding in Missouri and Illinois.

“Wavepattern 6:” Weird jet stream pattern ahead

Meteorologists count the number of waves in the jet stream as it circles the globe. (I know. Please don’t call the people in the white suits to take us away until you read the piece below.)

Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has an interesting write up on our unusual evolving wave pattern.

The number and amplitude of waves int he jet stream tell us a lot about the persistence and intensity of weather patterns. The current 6-wave pattern unfolding in the upper atmosphere is likely to produce some extreme weather effects in parts of the planet the next couple of weeks. This blocking pattern can cause “stuck” weather patterns. Minnesota is fortunately stuck under the sunnier warmer ridge for now. But it’s a different story under the soggy spinning low pressure cells on the coasts.

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Climate Cast: Choc-pocalypse ahead?

It turns out climate changes are affecting sensitive growing zones for things like cocoa, almonds, and vanilla. On Climate Cast this week, I spoke with Jerry Lynch from General Mills about how climate change is already working its way into the supply chains of big food companies like General Mills.

Who knew Betty Crocker would be dealing with climate change back in the 60s?

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