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The unpublished stories behind the
world’s most compelling science,
as told by the researchers themselves.

Latest Episode

[currently on hiatus, we will be back soon]

Science Writing as Storytelling (rebroadcast) with Ryan Kelly

What matters more in getting cited — what you say or how you say it? In this remastered and remixed version of our first episode of the show, we're...

Listen to the episode Science Writing as Storytelling (rebroadcast) – Ryan Kelly


Cold War Ice Core Reveals Historic Glacial Melt with Drew Christ

How did a Cold War era debacle help us better understand the dangers of climate change? In episode 99 of Parsing Science, we talk with Drew Christ from the University of Vermont about his...

Listen to the episode Cold War Ice Core Reveals Historic Glacial Melt – Andrew Christ

DNA Evidence of Denisovan Interbreeding with João Teixeira

What can DNA tell us about the migration of the earliest modern humans and other hominins? In episode 97 of Parsing Science, we talk with João Teixeira from the University of Adelaide about...

Listen to the episode DNA Evidence of Denisovan Interbreeding – João Teixeira

The Dyatlov Pass incident with Alexander Puzrin

Can science help solve a real-life mystery? In episode 97 of Parsing Science, we talk with Alexander Puzrin from ETH Zurich about his research into The Dyatlov Pass incident, a 62-year-old...

Listen to the episode The Dyatlov Pass incident – Alexander Puzrin

Monkey Business with Jean-Baptiste "JB" Leca

Do monkeys know how much fruit your sunglasses are worth? In episode 96 of Parsing Science, we talk with Jean-Baptiste "JB" Leca from the University of Lethbridge's Department of Psychology...

Listen to the episode Monkey Business – Jean-Baptiste “JB” Leca

Positively Negative with Shiri Melumad

How much can you trust people's retelling of information the've read? In episode 95, Shiri Melumad from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business discusses her research...

Listen to the episode Positively Negative – Shiri Melumad

How Mosquitoes Target Us with Zhilei Zhao & Lindy McBride

Why do mosquitoes prefer us over other animals? In episode 94, we talk with Zhilei Zhao and Lindy McBride from Princeton about their research into how mosquitoes that can carry dangerous...

Listen to the episode How Mosquitoes Target Us – Zhilei Zhao & Lindy McBride

Epistemic Puzzles in 'The Witness' with Luke Cuddy

What can a video game teach us about our epistemic philosophy? In episode 93, Luke Cuddy from Southwestern College’s philosophy program talks with us about the video game The Witness,...

Listen to the episode Epistemic Puzzles in ‘The Witness’ – Luke Cuddy

Unintended Consequences of Legal Reforms with Ángela Zorro Medina

What effect did copying the U.S.'s legal system have on Colombia's incarceration system? In episode 92, Ángela Zorro Medina from the University of Chicago discussed her research into...

Listen to the episode Unintended Consequences of Legal Reforms – Ángela Zorro Medina

Bots' Meddling in the 2020 Presidential Election with Emilio Ferrara

How are automated social media bots manipulating our political discourse? In episode 91, Emilio Ferrara from the University of Southern California discusses his research into bots' amplification...

Listen to the episode Bots’ Meddling in the 2020 Presidential Election – Emilio Ferrara

Latest Science News

How Misinformation Spreads Online - Soroush VosoughiHow Misinformation Spreads Online - Soroush Vosoughi
@rwatkins says:
The fields of social media, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are moving rapidly, making a challenge of keeping up with their advances. So we asked Soroush what unifying idea he thinks we should pay more attention to.
@rwatkins says:
Often invisibly, computational algorithms mine and analyze our interactions with technology. While the conveniences afforded by such technologies as speech recognition and computer vision through traffic navigation and medical diagnosis provide many benefits, they can also expose us to privacy risks … and even threaten our civil liberties. Given the pace of their growth, we wanted to hear what implications Soroush predicts that such technologies will have in our future.
@rwatkins says:
Publicity and press coverage of Soroush's study has been ubiquitous since its publication in early March of 2018. As of the release of this episode of Parsing Science, it ranks in the top 5% of all research publications that are monitored by Altmetric, a company which tracks the online popularity of published research, which also lists it as the second highest scoring article published ever by the journal Science over its 138-year history. We asked Soroush about his experience of all the media attention the study has received.
@rwatkins says:
The widespread use of social media seems to have accelerated our capacity to isolate ourselves from others whose opinions and perspectives differ from our own. This amplification and reinforcement of media that aligns with our established beliefs and opinions has been dubbed the "echo chamber effect." We asked Soroush for his perspective into this phenomenon.
@rwatkins says:
Soroush's earlier work involved creating a tool for detecting false rumors on social media platforms, and this project extended that research by examining how false and true rumors are shared. Given his expertise, Doug and I wanted to learn where his interests might take him next.
@rwatkins says:
We asked Soroush for his thoughts on how the spread of false news and rumors might be best investigated, as well as what courses of action he hopes that social media platforms might adopt to mitigate them.
@rwatkins says:
Unlike Facebook, tweets posted to Twitter are almost always public. The analytics data that Soroush and his team gained access to, however, are not. Since we spoke to him just as details of Cambridge Analytica's misuse of private Facebook data were first emerging, Doug and I were especially interested in learning what led Twitter to share every tweet ever made with Soroush's team.
@rwatkins says:
Though it wasn’t the focus of their study, Ryan and I were interested in learning if people may have different motivations for sharing false news online, as well as what might help persuade them to reconsider doing so. Here, Soroush gives his thoughts on the question.
@rwatkins says:
To learn whether there might be any linguistic clues that could explain how false rumors propogate, Soroush and his team examined the emotional content of replies to true and false news tweets. Here, he explains how they explored the ways in which people respond to both types of news.
@rwatkins says:
Their findings showed that false news spreads farther, faster, further and more broadly online than does the truth. Furthermore, the algorithm Soroush trained could also predict whether other online rumors were true or false 75% of the time … even before those tweets were fact-checked. Ryan and I were curious to learn which characteristics that Soroush and his team looked at were most influential in the spread of false news online.
@rwatkins says:
With social media, especially on Twitter, information is shared from one or more users to multiple other users. When such information is reshared, a “cascade” is formed. Soroush and his team selected over 126,000 tweets involving contested news stories which linked to one of six professional fact-checking websites, and could therefore be verified as true or false claims. They then examined four characteristics inherent to cascades, as he describes next.
@rwatkins says:
Ryan and I began our conversation with Soroush by asking what led to his interest in studying the spread of false news and rumors online.