Tag Archives: peer review

Online science of interest to skeptics this week at #ICWSM

I know many tech-oriented skeptics are paying attention to the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, wanting to find out what’s next in Macs, iPhones and iPads. But I’d like to call your attention to a different conference – a scientific conference – also going on this week. The conference is the 8th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, it runs through tomorrow in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

ICWSM logoIt might surprise you to learn there is a great deal of peer-reviewed science going on around blogs, social media and other newer online technologies. Curiously, while I see skeptics blogging about studies in alt-med, psychology, biology or physics almost daily, I rarely see skeptic blog posts about studies on Internet technology. (There are exceptions, of course). I see much more interest in this among the computer scientists, data scientists and journalists I follow online.

I suspect one of the reasons is studies in older scientific fields have more application to pseudoscience, the paranormal and other things skeptics seek to critique. But this newer Internet research can address the methods and techniques of skepticism itself. Many skeptics these days do a great deal of our work online. We should take advantage of the available science in this area to make our online efforts more effective.

One nice thing about the AAAI conference going on this week is much of it is published online already – indeed, full copies of all the papers to be presented were available online before the conference started.  I find a number of them cover topics that will be of interest to skeptics. One of them is specifically about sending Snopes.com links to people on Twitter – a common pursuit. And another may confirm some things we know about trolls.

Let me give you a peek.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Hypothes.is could become a crucial tool for skeptics

I’ve been thinking a long time about the idea of tools that could help people be more skeptical about information they encounter. It is one of the core goals of this blog.

I’ve always thought that the endpoint of this quest would be some sort of tool you could point at any piece of information and have it tell you whether it was true or false. It would be a computerized “skeptic-in-a-box” so to speak. I’ve done a bit of research on what it would take to build it. I’ve always thought that crowdsourcing and a reputation system to weight contributions by value would both figure prominently in any successful design.

Today I’m simultaneously very excited and just a little bit angry. Excited because I just got word that a project has been launched to build something very similar to my skeptic-in-a-box. (I’m angry only because it’s not my personal project.) But if this thing comes anywhere close to achieving its ambitious goals, I can definitely get over the angry part. It aims to go way beyond what I had in mind.

When Hypothes.is launches next year, it could be the most important piece of software ever created for applied skepticism. More details after the jump.

Continue reading