5 ways to be productive while working from home

Fuschia Sirois, University of Sheffield

If you have been asked to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus, you might be quite happy about it at first. Think of the benefits such as saving on commuting time and expenses, and being in a comfortable environment.

But the home environment has numerous distractions that can make it easy to procrastinate and not get your work done. Whether you are new to working from home or are a long-time remote worker who struggles with staying on task some days, these evidence-based strategies can help you reduce procrastination and stay productive.

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How to spot a conspiracy theory when you see one

Jovan Byford, The Open University

Anyone who engages critically with the phenomenon of conspiracy theories soon encounters a conundrum. Actual conspiracies occur quite regularly. Political assassinations, scandals and cover-ups, terrorist attacks and a lot of everyday government activity involves the collusion of multiple people in the attempt to bring about a desired outcome.

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How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist

Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster

When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also need to read science stories, even well-known publications, with caution.

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Pseudoscience is taking over social media – and putting us all at risk

Santosh Vijaykumar, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Search for “climate change” on YouTube and before long you’ll likely find a video that denies it exists. In fact, when it comes to shaping the online conversation around climate change, a new study suggests that deniers and conspiracy theorists might hold an edge over those believing in science. Researchers found evidence that most YouTube videos relating to climate change oppose the scientific consensus that it’s primarily caused by human activities.

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An organized collection of irrational nonsense (v. 5.0) – an amazing diagram

An organizational collection of irrational nonsense (previously known as the“Venn diagram of irrational nonsense”) v. 5.0. A complete list of irrational bullshit.

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A quantum computing future is unlikely, due to random hardware errors

Subhash Kak, Oklahoma State University

Google announced this fall to much fanfare that it had demonstrated “quantum supremacy” – that is, it performed a specific quantum computation far faster than the best classical computers could achieve. IBM promptly critiqued the claim, saying that its own classical supercomputer could perform the computation at nearly the same speed with far greater fidelity and, therefore, the Google announcement should be taken “with a large dose of skepticism.”

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What Einstein meant by ‘God does not play dice’

‘The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One,’ wrote Albert Einstein in December 1926. ‘I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.’

Einstein was responding to a letter from the German physicist Max Born. The heart of the new theory of quantum mechanics, Born had argued, beats randomly and uncertainly, as though suffering from arrhythmia. Whereas physics before the quantum had always been about doing this and getting that, the new quantum mechanics appeared to say that when we do this, we get that only with a certain probability. And in some circumstances we might get the other.

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Believing without evidence is always morally wrong

You have probably never heard of William Kingdon Clifford. He is not in the pantheon of great philosophers – perhaps because his life was cut short at the age of 33 – but I cannot think of anyone whose ideas are more relevant for our interconnected, AI-driven, digital age. This might seem strange given that we are talking about a Victorian Briton whose most famous philosophical work is an essay nearly 150 years ago. However, reality has caught up with Clifford. His once seemingly exaggerated claim that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence’ is no longer hyperbole but a technical reality.

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