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Pluralism: Beyond the One and Only Truth


One advocate of this view, called theoretical pluralism, was 19th-century physicist Ludwig Boltzmann. He argued that science doesn’t give us truth, it gives us representations, or models, each of which is necessarily limited. Hence we can never be sure that any given model is true. Boltzmann said in 1899 that the goal of a scientist

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How Misinformation Spreads


Social media has facilitated the proliferation of false belief at an unprecedented scale. By modeling the ways misinformation spreads via networks of people, researchers learn how social trust and conformity affect how communities reach consensus. Adding propagandists to the models shows how easily belief can be manipulated, even when scientists collect ample evidence.

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Deception in the Animal Kingdom


Humans are not alone in their deceitful ways. A wide variety of animals have been found to carry out disinformation campaigns. Animals may mislead members of their own species or other species via camouflage or mimicry. When the false signaling is done with intent, it is called tactical deception—a strategy deployed by creatures ranging from

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Is the Mathematical World Real?


Mathematicians tend to hold two simultaneous and incompatible views of the objects they study. Prime numbers, for example, have surprising relations with one another that mathematicians are still discovering. Such explorations, of what appears to be an alien landscape, encourage the idea that mathematical objects exist independently of humans. If mathematical objects are real, however, why can

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The Search for Truth in Physics


Physics may seem focused on the objective determination of facts. Yet the field has just as many—perhaps more—struggles with the notion of truth as any other discipline. Quantum mechanics, for instance, suggests that particles have no definite reality—by most interpretations, their properties are undecided until measured. Lately scientists are interested in how the uncertainties of

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Just a Story?


A new study finds that a good story can increase the persuasiveness of weak facts, but it may actually decrease the persuasiveness of strong facts. Previous psychological research on this subject has demonstrated that stories often result in more persuasion among listeners. But why this is so has been less clear. Is it because stories

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William S. Burroughs’ Manifesto for Overthrowing a Corrupt Government with Fake News and Other Prophetic Methods: It’s Now Published for the First Time

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