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Expert on Logic and Philosophy of Science Visits Cazenovia to Explain the Misinformation Age

29 May

By Katlynn Vredenburgh

 

On May 3, 2019 Cailin O’Connor, co-author of “The Misinformation Age,” gave a talk at Catherine Cummings Theatre in Cazenovia, New York to participate in the Cazenovia Forum Lecture Series.  The lecture, entitled “The Misinformation Age” covered some of the topics discussed in her book that attempt to explain the “fake news” and “alternative facts” phenomena that we see surrounding issues ranging from vaccinations to foreign influences upon U.S. elections.

As an Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science, a member of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science at the University of California, Irvine, and an applied mathematician O’Connor is dedicated to promoting the spread of factual information within the scientific community and investigating the persistence of false scientific beliefs.  In both the lecture and in her book, O’Connor asserted that people need to know the strategies and social factors that cause the production of false beliefs and “fake news” so they can better identify it and fight against its spread.

During the lecture, O’Connor gave a few historical examples of false beliefs, and how even the most outrageous claims, such as the existence of a vegetable lamb that grew sheep as fruit, can gain traction and credence within communities.  O’Connor also discussed some of the factors that can lead to the development of false beliefs, including social psychological concepts like the conformity bias and strategies that manipulate the results of true scientific findings, including selective sharing and industrial selection.  The rest of the lecture then consisted of O’Connor answering questions from members of the audience regarding topics including procedures websites like Facebook or Twitter could use to lessen the amount of false information spread by their users and the challenge of identifying “fake news” as the methods of its distribution frequently changes.

July 12 – Utica: The Last Refuge

21 May

“Utica: The Last Refuge”

Documentary Film

Stay tuned for details

Utica: The Last Refuge is an intimate portrait of a city and the refugees it has welcomed for 40 years. Now with a population that is nearly 25 percent refugees, Utica is rebuilding itself with their immense contribution.  As recently shown on PBS News Hour, this feature-length film will document the impact of an influx of refugees on a once dying industrial American city. After decades of decline and a loss of nearly half its population, Utica has welcomed 16,000 refugees — from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Via interwoven stories and some expert analysis shot over two years, the filmmakers paint a portrait of a city that is reaping unexpected benefits from its kindness. It is a case study about immigration in the United States today.

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