Study: Countering hate on social media

The rise of online hate speech is a disturbing, growing trend in countries around the world, with serious psychological consequences and the potential to impact, and even contribute to, real-world violence. A new paper offers a framework for studying the dynamics of online hate and counter speech, and offers the first large-scale classification of millions of instances such interactions on Twitter.

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The Conversation: Election polls are more accurate if they ask participants how others will vote

In a post-election op-ed for The Conversation, SFI Professor Mirta Galesic and Wändi Bruine de Bruin at USC Dornsife describe their polling research with colleagues Henrik Olssen, SFI External Professor, and Drazen Prelec at MIT. The team found that if polls start to ask questions about how people think members of their social circle or state will vote, they tend to predict results with far greater accuracy. 

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The rhythm of change: What a drum-beat experiment reveals about cultural evolution

Living organisms aren’t the only things that evolve over time. Cultural practices change, too, and in recent years social scientists have taken a keen interest in understanding this cultural evolution. A new experiment used drum-beats to investigate the role that environment plays on cultural shifts, confirming that different environments do indeed give rise to different cultural patterns.

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Science Club explores puzzles of politics and voting

If voters gravitate toward the center of the political spectrum, why are the parties drifting farther apart? At the latest meeting of SFI’s Virtual Science Club on Sept. 16, Vicky Chuqiao Yang, an SFI Omidyar Fellow and Peters Hurst Scholar, showed 40 attendees how dynamic mathematical models can help us make sense of this and other puzzles of politics and voting

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Have you no humanities?

SFI will soon launch a new “NEH institute,” Foundations and Applications of Humanities Analytics, to introduce early-career humanities scholars to new ways of studying culture with a wide range of computational tools.

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Joshua Epstein receives top award for social simulation

The European Social Simulation Association (ESSA) honored SFI External Professor Joshua Epstein (New York University) with its most prestigious award — The Rosaria Conte Award for Outstanding Social Simulation. A pioneer and world leader in agent-based modeling, Epstein was among the first scientists to use bottom-up simulation to replicate the statistical macrostructures seen in complex social systems. 

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Tiny worlds reveal fundamental drivers of abundance, diversity

Ecology is traditionally a data-poor discipline, but tiny microbial worlds offer the quantity of data needed to solve universal questions about abundance and diversity. New research by Jacopo Grilli reveals the fundamental relationship between the environment and the species present in a microbial community and can be used as a starting point for investigating bigger systems.

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Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer

Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger. Crucially, the model identifies a sharp transition at around 2.4 years of age, where sleep patterns change in humans as the primary purpose of sleep shifts from reorganization to repair.

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Aeon: Origin story

Recently, a number of SFI scientists have brought new research frames to bear on the origin of life puzzle. Their work, and that of other leading researchers in the field, is highlighted in a recent Aeon essay.

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