by Stephen Downes
Nov 03, 2016
The idea that we are living in a "post-truth world" has become fashionable, but I like Andrew Campbell's take: "There are many historical examples of commonly held beliefs that have little basis in fact. Since the 1700's people have believed in the existence of a plot to control the world by the Bavarian Illuminati. McCarthy's communist witch hunt, the belief in a flat earth, assertions that the Apollo Moon landings were faked and the conspiracy theory that the attacks of September 11th 2001 were an 'inside job' are more modern examples of popular ideas which have no basis in fact, yet still endure." The internet did little to correct this, and if anything, has accelerated it. This creates an onus on us to ensure that the students we teach are aware of filtering algorithms, gather news from multiple sources, and have the ability to understand different perspectives on issues.
Interesting summary of a new book from by Janice McCabe, a researcher at Dartmouth College, on the different types of networks students form in college or university. What's interesting is not the typology but the idea that your network of friends can, as the article says, drag you up or drag you down. "Among the students who said their close group of friends provided academic motivation and support, every one of them graduated. Among the ones who said they lacked this support and their friends distracted them from schoolwork, only half managed to graduate within six years." The usual caveat about sample sizes applies.
Yes, this article is pretty superficial (and a "ten reasons" listicle) but if you haven't been looking at some of the things neural networks are doing you may want to take a look. Also, it makes me feel good, because I always knew they'd perform like this.
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