5041329333 bed88bde7a o Fake news shapes our opinions even when we know it’s not true

Fake it till you make it. That old adage has never been so poignant in a year that has seen a surge in fake news. The rise in stories describing events that never happened, often involving fake people in fake places, has led Facebook and Google promising to tackle them. But are we really so gullible?

According to several studies, the answer is yes: even the most obvious fake news starts to become believable if it’s shared enough times…

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my monthly column.  Image: Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

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cover What attracts people to modern art?The world of modern art is often viewed as irrational and perplexing by outsiders and insiders alike. Last fall, for example….

Read the rest of this article at NY Mag Image Credit: MOMA

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brain tinglews The Mystery of the Disappearing Brain TinglesIsy Suttie has felt “head squeezing” since she was young. The comedian, best known for playing Dobbie in the British sitcom Peep Show, is one of many people who experience autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – a tingly feeling often elicited by certain videos or particular mundane interactions. Growing up, Suttie says she had always assumed everyone felt it too….

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my monthly column.  Image: Dierk Schaefer

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4623954834 b91e2b881f z Abolishing locked psychiatric wards could put patients at risk

Open wards are better for people with mental health issues than wards with locked doors. So claims a recent study that found that suicide rates were lower in unlocked wards in psychiatric facilities.

The finding that open wards are safer for patients than secure units is appealing – it seems kinder, more humane. But the study was deeply flawed, and any move to change practices accordingly could risk harming more of the people that hospitals are trying to help….

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my monthly column.  Image: Russel Street

 

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4840377002 bf84a3cecc z Nudges work even if we know we are being nudgedDo subtle attempts to change your actions still work when you know they’re happening? It was thought that it’s easier to manipulate people who are kept in the dark, but it now seems we don’t mind being clearly “nudged” to behave in certain ways.

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my monthly column.  Image: Howard Lake

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