How to spot a conspiracy theory when you see one

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. Jovan Byford, The Open University

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …