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The Case Against Reality 0 (0)


Challenging leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that while we should take our perceptions seriously, we should not take them literally. How can it be possible that the world we see is not objective reality? And how can our senses be useful if they

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Pluralism: Beyond the One and Only Truth 0 (0)


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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Are Brains Bayesian? 0 (0)


Bayesian theories have attracted enormous attention in the cognitive sciences in recent years. According to these theories, the mind assigns probabilities to hypotheses and updates them according to standard probabilistic rules of inference. Bayesian theories have been applied to the study of perception, learning, memory, reasoning, language, decision-making, and many other domains. Bayesian approaches have

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Ram Das Interview 0 (0)


For more than 50 years, Ram Dass has watched as other nontraditional spiritual leaders have come and gone while he has remained. He has been active since the early 1960s, back when he was still known as Richard Alpert and worked alongside his Harvard psychology department colleague Timothy Leary, researching the mind-altering effects of LSD

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The Search for Social Identity 0 (0)


If self-uncertainty motivates people to identify with a group and internalize that identity as a key part of who they are, they need to be confident that they know exactly what the group's identity is. When you need what you consider to be reliable and trusted sources of identity information, where do you turn? The first port

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How Misinformation Spreads 0 (0)


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 0 (0)


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? 0 (0)


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 0 (0)


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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