Rice University study: Digital device overload linked to obesity risk

3 Apr

Lisa Simonson wrote in the Livestrong article, What Are Good & Bad Healthy Lifestyle Choices?

Everyone makes both good and bad lifestyle choices. You may make the choices you do because of learned habits, stress, exhaustion and even timeliness. To live a healthy lifestyle you need to have a nutrient-rich diet, moderate exercise each week, get enough rest and avoid products that can lead to unhealthy habits…. https://www.livestrong.com/article/381713-what-are-good-bad-healthy-lifestyle-choices/

See, Why Digital Overload Is Now Central to the Human Condition https://singularityhub.com/2016/01/15/why-grappling-with-digital-overload-is-now-part-of-the-human-condition/#sm.0001du9uyrj9zefstyx14vmmdlhp8

Science Daily reported in Digital device overload linked to obesity risk:

If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “So, we wanted to conduct this research to determine whether links exists between obesity and abuse of digital devices — as captured by people’s tendency to engage in media multitasking.”
An upcoming print edition of Brain Imaging and Behavior will report on the study, entitled “Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli.”
The research was conducted in two parts. In the first study, 132 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 completed a questionnaire assessing their levels of media multitasking and distractibility. This was done using a newly developed, 18-item Media Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. The MMT-R scale measures proactive behaviors of compulsive or inappropriate phone use (like feeling the urge to check your phone for messages while you’re talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work).
The researchers found that higher MMT-R scores were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater percentage of body fat, suggesting a possible link.
In follow-up research, 72 participants from the prior study underwent an fMRI scan, during which the researchers measured brain activity while people were shown a series of images. Mixed in with a variety of unrelated photos were pictures of appetizing but fattening foods.
When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. These same study participants, who also had higher BMIs and more body fat, were also more likely to spend time around campus cafeterias.
Overall, Lopez said these findings, although preliminary, suggest there are indeed links between media multitasking, risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190402164520.htm

Citation:

Digital device overload linked to obesity risk
Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Rice University
Summary:
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
Journal Reference:
Richard B. Lopez, Todd F. Heatherton, Dylan D. Wagner. Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 2019; DOI: 10.1007/s11682-019-00056-0

Here is the press release from Rice University:

Digital device overload linked to obesity risk
AMY MCCAIG
– APRIL 1, 2019POSTED IN: FEATURED STORIES
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
Long Description
New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “So, we wanted to conduct this research to determine whether links exists between obesity and abuse of digital devices — as captured by people’s tendency to engage in media multitasking.”
An upcoming print edition of Brain Imaging and Behavior will report on the study, entitled “Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli.”
The research was conducted in two parts. In the first study, 132 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 completed a questionnaire assessing their levels of media multitasking and distractibility. This was done using a newly developed, 18-item Media Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. The MMT-R scale measures proactive behaviors of compulsive or inappropriate phone use (like feeling the urge to check your phone for messages while you’re talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work).
The researchers found that higher MMT-R scores were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater percentage of body fat, suggesting a possible link.
In follow-up research, 72 participants from the prior study underwent an fMRI scan, during which the researchers measured brain activity while people were shown a series of images. Mixed in with a variety of unrelated photos were pictures of appetizing but fattening foods.
When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. These same study participants, who also had higher BMIs and more body fat, were also more likely to spend time around campus cafeterias.
Overall, Lopez said these findings, although preliminary, suggest there are indeed links between media multitasking, risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.
“Such links are important to establish, given rising obesity rates and the prevalence of multimedia use in much of the modern world,” he said of the findings.
Lopez and his fellow researchers hope the study will raise awareness of the issue and promote future work on the topic.
The study was co-authored by Todd Heatherton of Dartmouth College and Dylan Wagner of Ohio State University.
TAGS: Psychological Sciences, Social Sciences
About Amy McCaig
Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University’s Office of Public Affairs.

Well duh, it appears that lifestyle choice has a great deal to do with good food choices.

Patti Neighmond reported in the NPR story, It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert:

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they’re converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. In some cases, they’re building brand new stores.
“The presumption is, if you build a store, people are going to come,” says Stephen Matthews, professor in the departments of sociology, anthropology and demography at Penn State University. To check that notion, he and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently surveyed residents of one low-income community in Philadelphia before and after the opening of a glistening new supermarket brimming with fresh produce.
What they’re finding, Matthews says, is a bit surprising: “We don’t find any difference at all. … We see no effect of the store on fruit and vegetable consumption.”
Now, to be fair, the time was short. The store was only open for six months before residents were surveyed. Matthews says most residents knew that the store was there and that it offered healthy food. But only 26 percent said it was their regular “go to” market. And, as might be expected, those who lived close to the store shopped there most regularly.
Matthews says the findings dovetail with other work, and simply point to the obvious: Lots more intervention is needed to change behavior. For one thing, we’re all used to routine, and many of us will just keep shopping where we’ve been shopping, even if a newer, more convenient and bountiful store moves in.
But more than that, he says, many people, particularly in low-income food deserts, just aren’t used to buying or preparing healthy meals — they haven’t had the opportunity, until now.
Alex Ortega, a public health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees that providing access to nutritious food is only the first step.
“The next part of the intervention is to create demand,” he says, “so the community wants to come to the store and buy healthy fruits and vegetables and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar.”
Ortega directs a UCLA project that converts corner stores into hubs of healthy fare in low-income neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. He and colleagues work with community leaders and local high school students to help create that demand for nutritious food. Posters and signs promoting fresh fruits and vegetables hang in corner stores, such as the Euclid Market in Boyle Heights, and at bus stops. There are nutrition education classes in local schools, and cooking classes in the stores themselves….
The jury’s still out on whether these conversions of corner stores are actually changing people’s diets and health. The evidence is still being collected. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/10/273046077/takes-more-than-a-produce-aisle-to-refresh-a-food-desert

In other words, much of the obesity problem is due to personal life style choices and the question is whether government can or should regulate those choices.

Personal Responsibility:

There is only one person responsible for your life and the vocation you have chosen. That person is the one you see in the mirror in the morning when you wake up. Don’t blame God, your boss, your parents, your former teachers, your coach, your co-workers or your dog. You and only you are responsible for your work life and what you have achieved. The sooner you accept this notion, the sooner you will begin to make changes that lead to a happier and more productive life and career. http://www.corethemes.com/coreconcepts/

It’s all about ME unless I have to take responsibility for ME. The same brilliant minds who think the government can substitute for family have fostered a single parenthood rate of 70% in the African-American community and about 50% for the population as a whole. Given the child abuse and foster care numbers, this plan hasn’t worked well. Sometimes folks have to be responsible for their choices.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Elsevier study: Novel study links fetal exposure to nicotine and sudden infant death syndrome

31 Mar

There are numerous reasons why smoking is considered bad for an individual and there are numerous research studies which list the reasons. Studies are showing how bad second hand smoke is for children. A MNT article, Smoking During Pregnancy May Lower Your Child’s Reading Scores:

Babies born to mothers who smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day while pregnant have lower reading scores and a harder time with reading tests, compared with children whose mothers do not smoke.
This is the conclusion of a recent study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine and published in The Journal of Pediatrics in November 2012. The reading tests measured how well children read out loud and understood what they were reading.
This isn’t the first study to suggest that smoking in pregnancy may affect a child’s future health and development. A study released in August 2012 said that smoking during pregnancy increases a child’s risk of asthma. In addition, a 2009 study linked smoking during pregnancy to behavioral problems among 3 and 4 year olds boys…. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/253100.php

An Inserm and Pierre and Marie Curie University study adds behavior problems to the list of woes children of smokers suffer.

Science Daily reported in Early exposure to tobacco can cause behavioral problems in children:

The consequences of tobacco exposure are widely documented. It leads to many illnesses, including asthma. However, the potential role of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is much less well known in terms of its link to behavioural problems in children. In this context, the team led by Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Inserm Research Director at Unit 1136, “Pierre Louis Public Health Institute” (Inserm/UPMC) examined the association between pre- and postnatal ETS exposure and behavioural problems in children….
These observations seem to confirm those carried out in animals, i.e. that the nicotine contained in tobacco smoke may have a neurotoxic effect on the brain. During pregnancy, nicotine in tobacco smoke stimulates acetylcholine receptors, and causes structural changes in the brain. In the first months of life, exposure to tobacco smoke generates a protein imbalance that leads to altered neuronal growth….. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150928103029.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

Steven Reinberg reported in the Health Day article, Secondhand Smoke in Infancy May Harm Kids’ Teeth. http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/cavities-and-dental-news-118/secondhand-smoke-in-infancy-may-harm-kids-teeth-704482.html

Science Daily reported in Smoking fathers increase asthma-risk in future offspring:

A Norwegian study shows that asthma is three times more common in those who had a father who smoked in adolescence than offspring who didn’t.
It is well known that a mother’s environment plays a key role in child health. However, recent research, including more than 24,000 offspring, suggests that this may also be true for fathers….
Smoking fathers may influence gene control in children
Concerning mother’s smoking, the research found more offspring asthma if the mother smoked around pregnancy, consistent with previous studies. However, no effect of maternal smoking only prior to conception was identified. The difference from father’s smoking suggests effects through male sperm cells.
“Smoking is known to cause genetic and epigenetic damage to spermatozoa, which are transmissible to offspring and have the potential to induce developmental abnormalities,” explains Svanes.
It is previously known that nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her offspring. Father’s lifestyle and age appear, however, to be reflected in molecules that control gene function.
“There is growing evidence from animal studies for so called epigenetic programming, a mechanism whereby the father’s environment before conception could impact on the health of future generations,” Svanes says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928135903.h

Another study linked nicotine exposure to sudden infant death syndrome.

Science Daily reported in: Novel study links fetal exposure to nicotine and sudden infant death syndrome:

Fetal exposure to tobacco smoke in utero is associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and cardiac arrhythmias in newborns. In a novel study in rabbits, investigators provide the first evidence linking fetal exposure to nicotine to long-term alterations of the cardiac sodium current. These changes may impair adaptation of the cardiac sodium current to sympathetic tone and prevent awakening from sleep apnea, leading to arrhythmias that could potentially be involved in SIDS. They report their findings in HeartRhythm, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, published by Elsevier.
SIDS, or crib death, is the leading cause of death in the first year of life. In utero exposure to tobacco smoke remains the highest risk factor in 85 percent of cases. It therefore seems logical to prescribe nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) to pregnant women who wish to quit smoking. Tobacco smoke contains over 3,000 toxic compounds identified so far, but out of all the toxic compounds found in smoke, only nicotine is associated with cardiac arrhythmias in newborns.
“Clinicians often prescribe NRTs to pregnant women who wish to quit smoking in order to reduce the number of crib deaths,” explained lead investigator Robert Dumaine, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada. “However, our data show that nicotine alone is sufficient to alter electrical currents within the heart and generate arrhythmias leading to crib death.”
In the womb, the fetus cannot breathe on its own and its heart reacts to a reduction in oxygen by slowing the beating rate and its metabolism to preserve energy. This fetal adaptation is known as “diver reflex.” On the other hand, when an infant suffocates during sleep, the brain senses the reduction of oxygen in the blood and will trigger secretion of adrenalin (epinephrine) to accelerate heart rhythm. Once cardiac rhythm accelerates, in part due to increased excitability (sodium current) in the heart, the baby wakes up. This “resuscitation reflex” seems to be absent in babies with SIDS. Instead, those infants display a slowing of heart rate when lacking oxygen, as if their postnatal cardiac development had been delayed and still in a fetal state.
“The importance of this study is that, for the first time, we provide direct evidence that in utero exposure to nicotine has postnatal effects on the development of the heart and its response to adrenalin and may provide a basis to explain why some babies do not wake up during sleep apnea,” commented Dr. Dumaine. “Therefore, it might be worthwhile to revisit the clinical practice of prescribing the nicotine patch and other NRTs to pregnant women….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190328150959.htm

Citation:

Novel study links fetal exposure to nicotine and sudden infant death syndrome
Date: March 28, 2019
Source: Elsevier
Summary:
In utero exposure to nicotine has postnatal effects on development of the heart and its response to adrenalin and may contribute to explanation of why some babies do not wake up during sleep apnea, according to a new study.
Journal Reference:
Michael Biet, Anh Tuan Ton, Jean-Francois Delabre, Nathalie Morin, Robert Dumaine. In utero exposure to nicotine abolishes the postnatal response of the cardiac sodium current to isoproterenol in newborn rabbit atrium. Heart Rhythm, 2019; 16 (4): 494 DOI: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2019.02.013

Here is the press release from Elsevier:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 28-MAR-2019
Novel study links fetal exposure to nicotine and sudden infant death syndrome
In utero exposure to nicotine has postnatal effects on development of the heart and its response to adrenalin and may contribute to explanation of why some babies do not wake up during sleep apnea, according to important new study published in HeartRhythm
ELSEVIER
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Philadelphia, March 28, 2019 – Fetal exposure to tobacco smoke in utero is associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and cardiac arrhythmias in newborns. In a novel study in rabbits, investigators provide the first evidence linking fetal exposure to nicotine to long-term alterations of the cardiac sodium current. These changes may impair adaptation of the cardiac sodium current to sympathetic tone and prevent awakening from sleep apnea, leading to arrhythmias that could potentially be involved in SIDS. They report their findings in HeartRhythm, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, published by Elsevier.
SIDS, or crib death, is the leading cause of death in the first year of life. In utero exposure to tobacco smoke remains the highest risk factor in 85 percent of cases. It therefore seems logical to prescribe nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) to pregnant women who wish to quit smoking. Tobacco smoke contains over 3,000 toxic compounds identified so far, but out of all the toxic compounds found in smoke, only nicotine is associated with cardiac arrhythmias in newborns.
“Clinicians often prescribe NRTs to pregnant women who wish to quit smoking in order to reduce the number of crib deaths,” explained lead investigator Robert Dumaine, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada. “However, our data show that nicotine alone is sufficient to alter electrical currents within the heart and generate arrhythmias leading to crib death.”
In the womb, the fetus cannot breathe on its own and its heart reacts to a reduction in oxygen by slowing the beating rate and its metabolism to preserve energy. This fetal adaptation is known as “diver reflex.” On the other hand, when an infant suffocates during sleep, the brain senses the reduction of oxygen in the blood and will trigger secretion of adrenalin (epinephrine) to accelerate heart rhythm. Once cardiac rhythm accelerates, in part due to increased excitability (sodium current) in the heart, the baby wakes up. This “resuscitation reflex” seems to be absent in babies with SIDS. Instead, those infants display a slowing of heart rate when lacking oxygen, as if their postnatal cardiac development had been delayed and still in a fetal state.
“The importance of this study is that, for the first time, we provide direct evidence that in utero exposure to nicotine has postnatal effects on the development of the heart and its response to adrenalin and may provide a basis to explain why some babies do not wake up during sleep apnea,” commented Dr. Dumaine. “Therefore, it might be worthwhile to revisit the clinical practice of prescribing the nicotine patch and other NRTs to pregnant women.”
Investigators measured the effect of nicotine on the response of cardiac sodium current (INa) to adrenergic stimulation in isolated cardiomyocytes in rabbits. They mated New Zealand female rabbits and after 14 days of gestation, implanted them subcutaneously with two osmotic pumps, each containing 2 ml of nicotine solution. The control group was exposed to saline solution instead of nicotine. Serum concentration of cotinine (nicotine metabolite) was measured every two days.
Results showed that isoproterenol, an analog of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a potent beta-adrenergic agonist, increased INa by 50 percent in newborn rabbits in the control group but had no effect in newborn rabbits that were exposed to nicotine in utero. Exposure of rabbit fetuses to nicotine while still in the womb reduced the response of their heart to adrenalin after birth. More specifically, they observed that the cardiac electrical current carried by sodium and responsible for excitability within the heart did not respond to adrenalin. Therefore, nicotine will impair acceleration of heart rate when adrenalin is released at the onset of sleep apnea, which is a potential mechanism leading to SIDS.
###
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Resources:

A History of Tobacco
http://archive.tobacco.org/History/Tobacco_History.html

American Lung Association’s Smoking and Teens Fact Sheet Women and Tobacco Use
African Americans and Tobacco Use
American Indians/Alaska Natives and Tobacco Use
Hispanics and Tobacco Use
Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and Tobacco Use
Military and Tobacco Use
Children/Teens and Tobacco Use
Older Adults and Tobacco Use
http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/specific-populations.html

Center for Young Women’s Health A Guide for Teens http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/smokeinfo.html

Kroger Resources Teens and Smoking
http://kroger.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Wellness/Smoking/Teens/

Teens Health’s Smoking
http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/tobacco/smoking.html

Quit Smoking Support.com
http://www.quitsmokingsupport.com/teens.htm

Where information leads to Hope. Dr. Wilda.com

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
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Dr. Wilda ©
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Lancaster University study: April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’

30 Mar

The Guardian article, What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it described fake news:

Surely it’s easy to tell fake news from real news
Actually, no.
A recent study carried out by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education assessed more than 7,800 responses from middle school, high school and college students in 12 US states on their ability to assess information sources.
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Researchers were “shocked” by students’ “stunning and dismaying consistency” to evaluate information at even as basic a level as distinguishing advertisements from articles.
If you think you, an adult with an internet connection, are better placed than a middle school student to assess sources, this collection of comments on “literally unbelievable” humour stories is humbling.
It’s not that readers are stupid, or even necessarily credulous: it’s that the news format is easy to imitate and some true stories are outlandish enough to beggar belief.
Where do these stories come from?
In its purest form, fake news is completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue. Examples include: “Transgender tampon now on the market”, “Pope Francis at White House: ‘Koran and Holy Bible are the same’”, “U2’s Bono rescued during terror attack, issues sick message to victims”.
Hosted on websites that often followed design conventions of online news media, with anodyne titles such as “Civic Tribune” and “Life Event Web” to give the semblance of legitimacy, the stories are geared to travel on social media.
With clicks come profit: a man running a string of fake news sites from Los Angeles told National Public Radio that he made as much as US$30,000 a month from advertising that rewards high traffic. More than 100 pro-Trump fake news websites were being run by teenagers in one town in Macedonia…
So, how do you tell what is fake news?
Soon, Facebook will flag stories of questionable legitimacy with an alert that says “Disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers”. There are three Google Chrome plugins and one just released by Slate that do similar as you browse the web.
Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, compiled this list of websites that either purposely publish false information or are otherwise entirely unreliable, broken down by category – and published a helpful list of tips for analysing news sources.
But Facebook’s approach has shortcomings and no list can ever be complete. You can’t go wrong by prioritising outlets known to be legitimate, and reading a lot of them. If it is published on the Guardian – just for example – it may well not be news, but it won’t be fake news. (Sorry, Breitbart.)
If you’re not sure if a site is legitimate, look for any red flags in its domain name, such as “.com.co”, and its About Us section. Google the sources of any quotes or figures given in the story – most fake news don’t have either, a warning sign in itself.
If the first you’ve heard of a particular event is from a website you’ve never heard of, there may be a reason. Be sceptical of stories about Trump, Clinton, the Pope, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, and particularly of stories about any of them pledging allegiance to Isis.
Rest assured, if Bieber does pledge allegiance to Isis, mainstream media will cover it…. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/18/what-is-fake-news-pizzagate

See, “Fake News,” Lies and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction https://guides.lib.umich.edu/fakenews and What Is Fake News? https://www.prageru.com/video/what-is-fake-news/

Science Daily reported in April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’:

Studying April Fools hoax news stories could offer clues to spotting ‘fake news’ articles, new research reveals.
Academic experts in Natural Language Processing from Lancaster University who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories.
They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes — the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1st — and malicious fake news stories.
The researchers have compiled a novel dataset, or corpus, of more than 500 April Fools articles sourced from more than 370 websites and written over 14 years.
“April Fools hoaxes are very useful because they provide us with a verifiable body of deceptive texts that give us an opportunity to find out about the linguistic techniques used when an author writes something fictitious disguised as a factual account,” said Edward Dearden from Lancaster University, and lead-author of the research. “By looking at the language used in April Fools and comparing them with fake news stories we can get a better picture of the kinds of language used by authors of disinformation.”
A comparison of April Fools hoax texts against genuine news articles written in the same period — but not published on April 1st — revealed stylistic differences.
Researchers focused on specific features within the texts, such as the amount of details used, vagueness, formality of writing style and complexity of language.
They then compared the April Fools stories with a ‘fake news’ dataset, previously compiled by a different team of researchers.
Although not all of the features found in April Fools hoaxes were found to be useful for detecting fake news, there were a number of similar characteristics found across both.
They found April Fools hoaxes and fake news articles tend to contain less complex language, an easier reading difficulty, and longer sentences than genuine news.
Important details for news stories, such as names, places, dates and times, were found to be used less frequently within April Fools hoaxes and fake news. However, proper nouns, such as the names of prominent politicians ‘Trump’ or ‘Hillary’, are more abundant in fake news than in genuine news articles or April Fools, which have significantly fewer…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190329130206.htm

Citation:

April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’
Date: March 29, 2019
Source: Lancaster University
Summary:
Academic experts in natural language processing who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories. They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes — the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1 — and malicious fake news stories.

Here is the press release from Lancaster University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 29-MAR-2019
April Fools hoax stories could offer clues to help identify ‘fake news’
LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
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Studying April Fools hoax news stories could offer clues to spotting ‘fake news’ articles, new research reveals.
Academic experts in Natural Language Processing from Lancaster University who are interested in deception have compared the language used within written April Fools hoaxes and fake news stories.
They have discovered that there are similarities in the written structure of humorous April Fools hoaxes – the spoof articles published by media outlets every April 1st – and malicious fake news stories.
The researchers have compiled a novel dataset, or corpus, of more than 500 April Fools articles sourced from more than 370 websites and written over 14 years.
“April Fools hoaxes are very useful because they provide us with a verifiable body of deceptive texts that give us an opportunity to find out about the linguistic techniques used when an author writes something fictitious disguised as a factual account,” said Edward Dearden from Lancaster University, and lead-author of the research. “By looking at the language used in April Fools and comparing them with fake news stories we can get a better picture of the kinds of language used by authors of disinformation.”
A comparison of April Fools hoax texts against genuine news articles written in the same period – but not published on April 1st – revealed stylistic differences.
Researchers focused on specific features within the texts, such as the amount of details used, vagueness, formality of writing style and complexity of language.
They then compared the April Fools stories with a ‘fake news’ dataset, previously compiled by a different team of researchers.
Although not all of the features found in April Fools hoaxes were found to be useful for detecting fake news, there were a number of similar characteristics found across both.
They found April Fools hoaxes and fake news articles tend to contain less complex language, an easier reading difficulty, and longer sentences than genuine news.
Important details for news stories, such as names, places, dates and times, were found to be used less frequently within April Fools hoaxes and fake news. However, proper nouns, such as the names of prominent politicians ‘Trump’ or ‘Hillary’, are more abundant in fake news than in genuine news articles or April Fools, which have significantly fewer.
First person pronouns, such as ‘we’, are also a prominent feature for both April Fools and fake news. This goes against traditional thinking in deception detection, which suggests liars use fewer first person pronouns.
The researchers found that April fools hoax stories, when compared to genuine news:
• Are generally shorter in length
• Use more unique words
• Use longer sentences
• Are easier to read
• Refer to vague events in the future
• Contain more references to the present
• Are less interested in past events
• Contain fewer proper nouns
• Use more first person pronouns
Fake news stories, when compared to genuine news:
• Are shorter in length
• Are easier to read
• Use simplistic language
• Contain fewer punctuation marks
• Contain more proper nouns
• Are generally less formal – use more first names such as ‘Hillary’ and contain more profanity and spelling mistakes
• Contain very few dates
• Use more first person pronouns
The researchers also created a machine learning ‘classifier’ to identify if articles are April Fools hoaxes, fake news or genuine news stories. The classifier achieved a 75 per cent accuracy at identifying April Fools articles and 72 per cent for identifying fake news stories. When the classifier was trained on April Fools hoaxes and set the task of identifying fake news it recorded an accuracy of more than 65 per cent.
Dr Alistair Baron, co-author of the paper, said: “Looking at details and complexities within a text are crucial when trying to determine if an article is a hoax. Although there are many differences, our results suggest that April Fools and fake news articles share some similar features, mostly involving structural complexity.
“Our findings suggest that there are certain features in common between different forms of disinformation and exploring these similarities may provide important insights for future research into deceptive news stories.”
The research has been outlined in the paper ‘Fool’s Errand: Looking at April Fools Hoaxes as Disinformation through the Lens of Deception and Humour’, which will be presented at the 20th International Conference on Computational Linguistics and Intelligent Text Processing, to be held in La Rochelle in April.
###
The paper’s authors are Edward Dearden and Alistair Baron of Lancaster University. Edward Dearden’s PhD studies have been supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

The University of West Florida has a great guide to avoiding fake news.

In Fake News the University of West Florida discussed fake news:

Fact-Checking: The Facts
#1: Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate
• Use criteria to evaluate a source. In Libraries, we often use the CRAAP Test* to evaluate websites, and these criteria are useful for evaluating news as well. These criteria are:
o Currency: is the information current? Many times on Facebook, you will click on a story and notice that the date was from a few months or years ago, but your “friends” are acting outraged as if it is happening in the moment.
o Relevance: is the information important to your research needs? This criterion perhaps applies most if you are out seeking information, rather than just stumbling across it. Does the information relate to your question and at the appropriate-level (elementary/advanced)? Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this one?
o Authority: who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the news? Do they have authority on the subject? Do they have an agenda?
o Accuracy: Is the information supported by evidence? Does the author cite credible sources? Is the information verifiable in other places?
o Purpose: What is the purpose of this news? To outrage? To call to action? To inform? To sell? This can give you clues about bias.
So, finally, is your news source CRAAP? More on Fact-Checking:
#2: Google It!
If you found out something via social media, you should take 5 seconds and just Google it! More often than not, a Google search will show:
• If other reputable news sites are reporting on the same thing
• If a fact-check website has already debunked the claim
• If only biased news organizations are reporting the claim — in this case, it may require more digging.
I would say that most of the time, 5 seconds is all you need before you hit the angry, the like, the love, or – WORSE! – the share button!
#3: Get News from News Sources
One of the easiest ways to avoid the trap of fake news to begin with may seem obvious:
Go directly to credible news websites for your news.
Relying on Facebook to see what is “trending” or what is being shared across your newsfeed means you have to verify every single meme or news article you come across. Why not rely on news apps on your phone that go to news websites for that?
• Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France.
• Associated Press
An independent, non-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City.
• Reuters
The world’s largest international multimedia news agency.
**Keep in mind that even some reputable news sites have biases and may tell the facts in different ways.**
• British Broadcasting Company
• National Public Radio
• New York Times
• Wall Street Journal
• The Washington Post
• All Sides
All Sides says that its mission is to: “expose bias and provide multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.”

All Sides displays the same news stories from multiple news outlets (along with their rating of their conservative or liberal bias). This is a great way to learn how the same story is reported differently in different outlets.
#4: Distinguish Opinion from Fact
Even news websites and programs have spaces or shows dedicated to people’s opinions of news stories. In newspapers, these sections may be called:
• Editorials
• Letters to the Editor
• Op-Eds
• Opinion
Opinion shows many times now dominate cable news sources. You may agree with the opinions presented, or they may contextualize the facts for you in a way that makes sense. However, realize they are presenting the facts in a way that meets their agenda and think for yourself: How might “the other side” present these same facts?
Examples of opinion shows on news channels are:
• The O’Reilly Factor
• Hardball with Chris Matthews
• Fox & Friends
• The Rachel Maddow Show
• Anderson Cooper 360
#5: Watch out for red flags!
• Does the link end with .co instead of .com?
• Are there small disclaimers, something that says “satire”?
• When you click on a story in social media, is it a story that is outdated? Why is it being circulated now?
• Is it posted by so-and-so? …We all have that one friend on social media. https://libguides.uwf.edu/c.php?g=609513&p=4274530

The most important tool to combating fake news is Critical Thinking.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking defines critical thinking:

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness….
Why Critical Thinking?
The Problem
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and
imposing intellectual standards upon them.
The Result
A well cultivated critical thinker:
• raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
• gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
• thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
• communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism…. http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766

The mind is like a muscle, it must be exercised.

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Association for Psychological Research study: Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows

24 Mar

The Urban Dictionary defined trigger warning:

Trigger Warning
A phrase posted at the beginning of various posts, articles, or blogs. Its purpose is to warn weak minded people who are easily offended that they might find what is being posted offensive in some way due to its content, causing them to overreact or otherwise start acting like a dipshit. Popular on reddit SRS or other places that social justice warriors like to hang out.

Trigger warnings are unnecessary 100% of the time due to the fact that people who are easily offended have no business randomly browsing the internet anyways. As a result of the phrases irrelevance, most opinions that start out with this phrase tend to be simplistic and dull since they were made by people ridiculous enough to think that the internet is supposed to cater to people who can’t take a joke.
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trigger%20warning

An Atlantic article described the effect of trigger warnings.

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt wrote in the Atlantic article, The Coddling of the American Mind:

There’s a saying common in education circles: Don’t teach students what to think; teach them how to think. The idea goes back at least as far as Socrates. Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them. Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, and even to anger, on the way to understanding.
But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically….
But if you want to help her return to normalcy, you should take your cues from Ivan Pavlov and guide her through a process known as exposure therapy. You might start by asking the woman to merely look at an elevator from a distance—standing in a building lobby, perhaps—until her apprehension begins to subside. If nothing bad happens while she’s standing in the lobby—if the fear is not “reinforced”—then she will begin to learn a new association: elevators are not dangerous. (This reduction in fear during exposure is called habituation.) Then, on subsequent days, you might ask her to get closer, and on later days to push the call button, and eventually to step in and go up one floor. This is how the amygdala can get rewired again to associate a previously feared situation with safety or normalcy….
Attempts to shield students from words, ideas, and people that might cause them emotional discomfort are bad for the students. They are bad for the workplace, which will be mired in unending litigation if student expectations of safety are carried forward. And they are bad for American democracy, which is already paralyzed by worsening partisanship. When the ideas, values, and speech of the other side are seen not just as wrong but as willfully aggressive toward innocent victims, it is hard to imagine the kind of mutual respect, negotiation, and compromise that are needed to make politics a positive-sum game.
Rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control. One of the great truths taught by Buddhism (and Stoicism, Hinduism, and many other traditions) is that you can never achieve happiness by making the world conform to your desires. But you can master your desires and habits of thought. This, of course, is the goal of cognitive behavioral therapy. With this in mind, here are some steps that might help reverse the tide of bad thinking on campus.
Universities themselves should try to raise consciousness about the need to balance freedom of speech with the need to make all students feel welcome. Talking openly about such conflicting but important values is just the sort of challenging exercise that any diverse but tolerant community must learn to do. Restrictive speech codes should be abandoned.
Universities should also officially and strongly discourage trigger warnings. They should endorse the American Association of University Professors’ report on these warnings, which notes, “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.” Professors should be free to use trigger warnings if they choose to do so, but by explicitly discouraging the practice, universities would help fortify the faculty against student requests for such warnings.
Finally, universities should rethink the skills and values they most want to impart to their incoming students. At present, many freshman-orientation programs try to raise student sensitivity to a nearly impossible level. Teaching students to avoid giving unintentional offense is a worthy goal, especially when the students come from many different cultural backgrounds. But students should also be taught how to live in a world full of potential offenses. Why not teach incoming students how to practice cognitive behavioral therapy? Given high and rising rates of mental illness, this simple step would be among the most humane and supportive things a university could do…. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

A study questioned the effectiveness of trigger warnings.

Science Daily reported in Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows:

Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world,” says psychology researcher Mevagh Sanson of The University of Waikato, first author on the research. “Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful.”
Trigger warnings may be increasingly prevalent, but there has been almost no research actually examining their effects.
It’s possible that they function the way they’re meant to, helping people to manage their emotional responses and reduce their symptoms of distress. But it’s also possible trigger warnings could have the opposite effect, influencing people’s expectations and experiences in ways that exacerbate their distress….
To resolve the question, the researchers conducted a series of six experiments with a total of 1,394 participants.
Some participants — a combination of college students and online participants — read a message about the content they were about to see, for example: “TRIGGER WARNING: The following video may contain graphic footage of a fatal car crash. You might find this content disturbing.” Others did not read a warning. All participants were then exposed to the content.
Afterward, the participants reported various symptoms of distress — their negative emotional state, and the degree to which they experienced intrusive thoughts and tried to avoid thinking about the content.
The results across all six experiments were consistent: Trigger warnings had little effect on participants’ distress. That is, participants responded to the content similarly, regardless of whether they saw a trigger warning.
The format of the content also did not make a difference: Trigger warnings had little impact regardless of whether participants read a story or watched a video clip.
Could it be that trigger warnings are specifically effective for those people who have previously experienced traumatic events? The data suggested the answer is no: There was little difference between groups. In other words, individuals with a personal history of trauma who received a trigger warning reported similar levels of distress as did those who did not receive a warning.
The researchers note that it remains to be seen whether these results would apply to individuals who have a specific clinical diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder. However, these findings indicate that trigger warnings are unlikely to have the meaningful impact they’re typically assumed to have.
“These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” says Sanson. “Of course, that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD. Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile, and coax them interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190319142312.htm

Citation:

Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows
Date: March 19, 2019
Source: Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content.
Journal Reference:
Mevagh Sanson, Deryn Strange, Maryanne Garry. Trigger Warnings Are Trivially Helpful at Reducing Negative Affect, Intrusive Thoughts, and Avoidance. Clinical Psychological Science, 2019; 216770261982701 DOI: 10.1177/2167702619827018

Here is the press release from Association for Psychological Research:

Trigger Warnings Do Little to Reduce People’s Distress, Research Shows
TAGS:
• CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE
• CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
• COGNITIVE PROCESSES
• EMOTION
• TEACHING
• TRAUMA
• WELL-BEING
Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world,” says psychology researcher Mevagh Sanson of The University of Waikato, first author on the research. “Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful.”
Trigger warnings may be increasingly prevalent, but there has been almost no research actually examining their effects.
It’s possible that they function the way they’re meant to, helping people to manage their emotional responses and reduce their symptoms of distress. But it’s also possible trigger warnings could have the opposite effect, influencing people’s expectations and experiences in ways that exacerbate their distress.
“We thought it was important to figure out how effective these warnings are,” says Sanson. “This is the first piece of empirical work directly examining if they have their intended effects.”
To resolve the question, the researchers conducted a series of six experiments with a total of 1,394 participants.
Some participants – a combination of college students and online participants – read a message about the content they were about to see, for example: “TRIGGER WARNING: The following video may contain graphic footage of a fatal car crash. You might find this content disturbing.” Others did not read a warning. All participants were then exposed to the content.
Afterward, the participants reported various symptoms of distress—their negative emotional state, and the degree to which they experienced intrusive thoughts and tried to avoid thinking about the content.
The results across all six experiments were consistent: Trigger warnings had little effect on participants’ distress. That is, participants responded to the content similarly, regardless of whether they saw a trigger warning.
The format of the content also did not make a difference: Trigger warnings had little impact regardless of whether participants read a story or watched a video clip.
Could it be that trigger warnings are specifically effective for those people who have previously experienced traumatic events? The data suggested the answer is no: There was little difference between groups. In other words, individuals with a personal history of trauma who received a trigger warning reported similar levels of distress as did those who did not receive a warning.
The researchers note that it remains to be seen whether these results would apply to individuals who have a specific clinical diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder. However, these findings indicate that trigger warnings are unlikely to have the meaningful impact they’re typically assumed to have.
“These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” says Sanson. “Of course, that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD. Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile, and coax them to interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger.”
M. Sanson was supported by Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Waikato, and Fulbright New Zealand.
________________________________________
News > Latest Research News > Trigger Warnings Do Little to Reduce People’s Distress, Research Shows
Published March 19, 2019

The First Amendment and Free Speech are vital ingredients to the preservation of the CONSTITUTION.

Iain Murray wrote in The Importance of Free Speech to Human Progress: From Principia Mathematica to Charlie Hebdo:

It is exactly that goal — to help us determine what actually is, rather than what is simply asserted — that free speech and free inquiry make possible. As an institution of liberty, free speech must be defended wherever it is attacked. (My colleague Hans Bader has written elsewhere about letting down our guard.) Those who seek to suppress free speech want to keep mankind mired in poverty and ignorance, subject to their own whims and beliefs. They cannot be allowed to succeed. https://fee.org/articles/the-importance-of-free-speech-to-human-progress/

 

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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University of York study: Trials testing new educational methods in schools ‘often fail to produce useful evidence’

21 Mar

More and more, individuals with gravitas are opining about the American education system for reasons ranging from national security to economic competitiveness. Regarding  the Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi wrote:

The Council on Foreign Relations issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/ Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/condoleezza-rice-and-joel-klein-report-about-american-education/

Citation:

U.S. Education Reform and National Security
Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press
Release Date March 2012
Price $15.00
108 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-520-1
Task Force Report No. 68

Related:

Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post,Schools Report: Failing To Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/schools-report-condoleezza-rice-joel-klein_n_1365144.html

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process.

Science Daily reported in Trials testing new educational methods in schools ‘often fail to produce useful evidence’:

Educational trials aimed at boosting academic achievement in schools are often uninformative, new research suggests.
The new study, published in the journal Educational Researcher, found that 40% of large-scale randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the UK and the US failed to produce any evidence as to whether an educational intervention helped to boost academic attainment or not.
The researchers evaluated 141 trials involving more than one million students, which tested schemes ranging from whether providing free school breakfasts raises grades in Maths and English, to whether playing chess improves numeracy skills.
The trials, which were carried out by the charitable organisation the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in the UK and the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in the US, are expensive — with costs often exceeding £500,000.
The authors of the study argue that more research is urgently needed to understand why RCTs in education are so often uninformative.
Lead author of the research, Dr Hugues Lortie-Forgues, from the Department of Education at the University of York, UK, said: “Just like in medicine, trials of educational interventions are an important way to allow policy makers and teachers to make informed decisions about how to improve education. However, many of these trials are currently not fulfilling their main aim of demonstrating which interventions are effective and which are not….”
In recent years there have been a growing number of RCTs conducted in education. For example, in the UK, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has commissioned more than 191 trials since 2012.
The researchers cite possible reasons why current trials may be ineffective, including:
• The interventions being tested may not be suitable for trial in the first place.
• Interventions may not be being correctly implemented during trials — for example due to inadequate training of teachers in the methods being tested.
• The trials themselves may be poorly designed
The authors suggest a series of changes that could make the trials more informative, including higher-standards when considering which new initiatives are trialled…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190315110913.htm

Citation:

Trials testing new educational methods in schools ‘often fail to produce useful evidence’
Educational trials aimed at boosting academic achievement in schools are often uninformative
Date: March 15, 2019
Source: University of York
Summary:
The new study found that 40% of large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the UK and the US failed to produce any evidence as to whether an educational intervention helped to boost academic attainment or not.

Journal Reference:
Hugues Lortie-Forgues, Matthew Inglis. Rigorous Large-Scale Educational RCTs Are Often Uninformative: Should We Be Concerned? Educational Researcher, 2019; 0013189X1983285 DOI: 10.3102/0013189X19832850

Here is the press release from the University of York:

Trials testing new educational methods in schools often fail to produce useful evidence, say researchers
Posted on 15 March 2019
Educational trials aimed at boosting academic achievement in schools are often uninformative, new research suggests.
The new study, published in the journal Educational Researcher, found that 40% of large-scale randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the UK and the US failed to produce any evidence as to whether an educational intervention helped to boost academic attainment or not.
The researchers evaluated 141 trials involving more than one million students, which tested schemes ranging from whether providing free school breakfasts raises grades in Maths and English, to whether playing chess improves numeracy skills.
The trials, which were carried out by the charitable organisation the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in the UK and the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in the US, are expensive – with costs often exceeding £500,000.
Informed decisions
The authors of the study argue that more research is urgently needed to understand why RCTs in education are so often uninformative.
Lead author of the research, Dr Hugues Lortie-Forgues, from the Department of Education at the University of York, UK, said: “Just like in medicine, trials of educational interventions are an important way to allow policy makers and teachers to make informed decisions about how to improve education. However, many of these trials are currently not fulfilling their main aim of demonstrating which interventions are effective and which are not.”
“Further research to investigate the reasons for this should be a priority. These organisations are trying to achieve something positive and reform is urgently needed to help them to do so.”
Higher standards
In recent years there have been a growing number of RCTs conducted in education. For example, in the UK, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has commissioned more than 191 trials since 2012.
The researchers cite possible reasons why current trials may be ineffective, including:
The interventions being tested may not be suitable for trial in the first place.
Interventions may not be being correctly implemented during trials – for example due to inadequate training of teachers in the methods being tested.
The trials themselves may be poorly designed
The authors suggest a series of changes that could make the trials more informative, including higher-standards when considering which new initiatives are trialled. https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2019/research/trials-testing-new-educational-methods/

In Paul E. Peterson will piss you off, you might want to listen, moi said:
Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children, after all, you and your child should not be raising each other. Moi said this in Hard truths: The failure of the family:
This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me first” philosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of Katrina, the real genocide is self-inflicted. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/hard-truths-the-failure-of-the-family/ It is interesting that the ruling elites do not want to touch the issue of unwed births with a ten thousand foot pole. After all, that would violate some one’s right to _____. Let moi fill in the blank, the right to be stupid, probably live in poverty, and not be able to give your child the advantages that a more prepared parent can give a child because to tell you to your face that you are an idiot for not using birth control is not P.C.
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/paul-e-peterson-will-piss-you-off-you-might-want-to-listen/

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American Psychological Association study: Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade

17 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Reputation takes a long time to burnish and nurture. It can be destroyed by a smear or an ill-thought-out act in a nanosecond.

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
Socrates
“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
Wayne W. Dyer
In an attempt to control online reputation, many schools are now helping their students clean their online presentation. Why? Because people like to gossip and most of us have been young and stupid or old and ill-advised.
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt
“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?”
Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens

Science Daily reported in Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade: Shift may be due in part to rise of digital media, study suggests:

The percentage of young Americans experiencing certain types of mental health disorders has risen significantly over the past decade, with no corresponding increase in older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
“More U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” said lead author Jean Twenge, PhD, author of the book “iGen” and professor of psychology at San Diego State University. “These trends are weak or non-existent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages.”
The research was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Twenge and her co-authors analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative survey that has tracked drug and alcohol use, mental health and other health-related issues in individuals age 12 and over in the United States since 1971. They looked at survey responses from more than 200,000 adolescents age 12 to 17 from 2005 to 2017, and almost 400,000 adults age 18 and over from 2008 to 2017.
The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52 percent in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 (from 8.7 percent to 13.2 percent) and 63 percent in young adults age 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017 (from 8.1 percent to 13.2 percent). There was also a 71 percent increase in young adults experiencing serious psychological distress in the previous 30 days from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.7 percent to 13.1 percent). The rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes increased 47 percent from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.0 percent to 10.3 percent).
There was no significant increase in the percentage of older adults experiencing depression or psychological distress during corresponding time periods. The researchers even saw a slight decline in psychological distress in individuals over 65.
“Cultural trends in the last 10 years may have had a larger effect on mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes among younger generations compared with older generations,” said Twenge, who believes this trend may be partially due to increased use of electronic communication and digital media, which may have changed modes of social interaction enough to affect mood disorders. She also noted research shows that young people are not sleeping as much as they did in previous generations.
The increase in digital media use may have had a bigger impact on teens and young adults because older adults’ social lives are more stable and might have changed less than teens’ social lives have in the last ten years, said Twenge. Older adults might also be less likely to use digital media in a way that interferes with sleep — for example, they might be better at not staying up late on their phones or using them in the middle of the night.
“These results suggest a need for more research to understand how digital communication versus face-to-face social interaction influences mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes and to develop specialized interventions for younger age groups,” she said…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190315110908.htm

Citation:

Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade
Shift may be due in part to rise of digital media, study suggests
Date: March 15, 2019
Source: American Psychological Association
Summary:
The percentage of young Americans experiencing certain types of mental health disorders has risen significantly over the past decade, with no corresponding increase in older adults, according to new research.

Journal Reference:
Jean M. Twenge, A. Bell Cooper, Thomas E. Joiner, Mary E. Duffy, Sarah G. Binau. Age, period, and cohort trends in mood disorder indicators and suicide-related outcomes in a nationally representative dataset, 2005–2017.. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/abn0000410

Here is the press release from the American Psychological Association:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 14-MAR-2019
Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade
Shift may be due in part to rise of digital media, study suggests
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
WASHINGTON — The percentage of young Americans experiencing certain types of mental health disorders has risen significantly over the past decade, with no corresponding increase in older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
“More U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” said lead author Jean Twenge, PhD, author of the book “iGen” and professor of psychology at San Diego State University. “These trends are weak or non-existent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages.”
The research was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Twenge and her co-authors analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative survey that has tracked drug and alcohol use, mental health and other health-related issues in individuals age 12 and over in the United States since 1971. They looked at survey responses from more than 200,000 adolescents age 12 to 17 from 2005 to 2017, and almost 400,000 adults age 18 and over from 2008 to 2017.
The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52 percent in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 (from 8.7 percent to 13.2 percent) and 63 percent in young adults age 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017 (from 8.1 percent to 13.2 percent). There was also a 71 percent increase in young adults experiencing serious psychological distress in the previous 30 days from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.7 percent to 13.1 percent). The rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes increased 47 percent from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.0 percent to 10.3 percent).
There was no significant increase in the percentage of older adults experiencing depression or psychological distress during corresponding time periods. The researchers even saw a slight decline in psychological distress in individuals over 65.
“Cultural trends in the last 10 years may have had a larger effect on mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes among younger generations compared with older generations,” said Twenge, who believes this trend may be partially due to increased use of electronic communication and digital media, which may have changed modes of social interaction enough to affect mood disorders. She also noted research shows that young people are not sleeping as much as they did in previous generations.
The increase in digital media use may have had a bigger impact on teens and young adults because older adults’ social lives are more stable and might have changed less than teens’ social lives have in the last ten years, said Twenge. Older adults might also be less likely to use digital media in a way that interferes with sleep – for example, they might be better at not staying up late on their phones or using them in the middle of the night.
“These results suggest a need for more research to understand how digital communication versus face-to-face social interaction influences mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes and to develop specialized interventions for younger age groups,” she said.
Given that the increase in mental health issues was sharpest after 2011, Twenge believes it’s unlikely to be due to genetics or economic woes and more likely to be due to sudden cultural changes, such as shifts in how teens and young adults spend their time outside of work and school. If so, that may be good news, she said.
“Young people can’t change their genetics or the economic situation of the country, but they can choose how they spend their leisure time. First and most important is to get enough sleep. Make sure your device use doesn’t interfere with sleep — don’t keep phones or tablets in the bedroom at night, and put devices down within an hour of bedtime,” she said. “Overall, make sure digital media use doesn’t interfere with activities more beneficial to mental health such as face-to-face social interaction, exercise and sleep.”
###
Article: “Age, Period, and Cohort Trends in Mood Disorder and Suicide-Related Outcomes in a Nationally Representative Dataset, 2005-2017,” by Jean Twenge, PhD, San Diego State University; Thomas Joiner, PhD, and Mary Duffy, BA, Florida State University; Bell Cooper, PhD, Lynn University; and Sara Binau, Pomona College. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published online March 14, 2019.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/abn-abn0000410.pdf.
Contact: Jean Twenge can be contacted via email at jtwenge@mail.sdsu.edu.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 118,400 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.
http://www.apa.org
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
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There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html See, also The

Importance of Eating Together: Family dinners build relationships, and help kids do better in school. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/

It also looks like Internet rehab will have a steady supply of customers according to an article reprinted in the Seattle Times by Hillary Stout of the New York Times. In Toddlers Latch On to iPhones – and Won’t Let Go https://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/toddlers-latch-onto-iphones-8212-and-wont-let-go/ Stout reports:

But just as adults have a hard time putting down their iPhones, so the device is now the Toy of Choice — akin to a treasured stuffed animal — for many 1-, 2- and 3-year-olds. It’s a phenomenon that is attracting the attention and concern of some childhood development specialists.

Looks like social networking may not be all that social.

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Cornell University study: Faster robots demoralize co-workers

13 Mar

Mojtaba Arvin wrote in the Machine Learning article, The robot that became racist:

AI that learnt from the web finds white-sounding names ‘pleasant’ and …
Humans look to the power of machine learning to make better and more effective decisions.
However, it seems that some algorithms are learning more than just how to recognize patterns – they are being taught how to be as biased as the humans they learn from.
Researchers found that a widely used AI characterizes black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’, which they believe is a result of our own human prejudice hidden in the data it learns from on the World Wide Web.
Researchers found that a widely used AI characterizes black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’, which they believe is a result of our own human prejudice hidden in the data it learns from on the World Wide Web
Machine learning has been adopted to make a range of decisions, from approving loans to determining what kind of health insurance, reports Jordan Pearson with Motherboard.
A recent example was reported by Pro Publica in May, when an algorithm used by officials in Florida automatically rated a more seasoned white criminal as being a lower risk of committing a future crime, than a black offender with only misdemeanors on her record.
Now, researchers at Princeton University have reproduced a stockpile of documented human prejudices in an algorithm using text pulled from the internet.
HOW A ROBOT BECAME RACIST
Princeton University conducted a word associate task with the popular algorithm GloVe, an unsupervised AI that uses online text to understand human language.
The team gave the AI words like ‘flowers’ and ‘insects’ to pair with other words that the researchers defined as being ‘pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant’ like ‘family’ or ‘crash’ – which it did successfully.
Then algorithm was given a list of white-sounding names, like Emily and Matt, and black-sounding ones, such as Ebony and Jamal’, which it was prompted to do the same word association.
The AI linked the white-sounding names with ‘pleasant’ and black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’.
Princeton’s results do not just prove datasets are polluted with prejudices and assumptions, but the algorithms currently being used for researchers are reproducing human’s worst values – racism and assumption… https://www.artificialintelligenceonline.com/19050/the-robot-that-became-racist-ai-that-learnt-from-the-web-finds-white-sounding-names-pleasant-and/

See, The robot that became racist: AI that learnt from the web finds white-sounding names ‘pleasant’ and black-sounding names ‘unpleasant’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3760795/The-robot-racist-AI-learnt-web-finds-white-sounding-names-pleasant-black-sounding-names-unpleasant.html

Science Daily reported in Faster robots demoralize co-workers:

It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how hard the robot is working.
A Cornell University-led team has found that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort — and they tend to dislike the robots.
The study, “Monetary-Incentive Competition Between Humans and Robots: Experimental Results,” brought together behavioral economists and roboticists to explore, for the first time, how a robot’s performance affects humans’ behavior and reactions when they’re competing against each other simultaneously.
Their findings validated behavioral economists’ theories about loss aversion, which predicts that people won’t try as hard when their competitors are doing better, and suggests how workplaces might optimize teams of people and robots working together.
“Humans and machines already share many workplaces, sometimes working on similar or even identical tasks,” said Guy Hoffman, assistant professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Hoffman and Ori Heffetz, associate professor of economics in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, are senior authors of the study.
“Think about a cashier working side-by-side with an automatic check-out machine, or someone operating a forklift in a warehouse which also employs delivery robots driving right next to them,” Hoffman said. “While it may be tempting to design such robots for optimal productivity, engineers and managers need to take into consideration how the robots’ performance may affect the human workers’ effort and attitudes toward the robot and even toward themselves. Our research is the first that specifically sheds light on these effects….”
After each round, participants filled out a questionnaire rating the robot’s competence, their own competence and the robot’s likability. The researchers found that as the robot performed better, people rated its competence higher, its likability lower and their own competence lower.
The research was partly supported by the Israel Science Foundation. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190311173205.htm

Citation:

Faster robots demoralize co-workers
Date: March 11, 2019
Source: Cornell University
Summary:
New research finds that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort — and they tend to dislike the robots.

Journal Reference:
Alap Kshirsagar, Bnaya Dreyfuss, Guy Ishai, Ori Heffetz, Guy Hoffman. Monetary-Incentive Competition Between Humans and Robots: Experimental Results. In Proc. of the 14th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI’19), IEEE, 2019 (forthcoming); [link]

Here is the press release from Cornell University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 11-MAR-2019

Faster robots demoralize co-workers

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

ITHACA, N.Y. – It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how hard the robot is working.
A Cornell University-led team has found that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort – and they tend to dislike the robots.
The study, “Monetary-Incentive Competition Between Humans and Robots: Experimental Results,” brought together behavioral economists and roboticists to explore, for the first time, how a robot’s performance affects humans’ behavior and reactions when they’re competing against each other simultaneously.
Their findings validated behavioral economists’ theories about loss aversion, which predicts that people won’t try as hard when their competitors are doing better, and suggests how workplaces might optimize teams of people and robots working together.
“Humans and machines already share many workplaces, sometimes working on similar or even identical tasks,” said Guy Hoffman, assistant professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Hoffman and Ori Heffetz, associate professor of economics in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, are senior authors of the study.
“Think about a cashier working side-by-side with an automatic check-out machine, or someone operating a forklift in a warehouse which also employs delivery robots driving right next to them,” Hoffman said. “While it may be tempting to design such robots for optimal productivity, engineers and managers need to take into consideration how the robots’ performance may affect the human workers’ effort and attitudes toward the robot and even toward themselves. Our research is the first that specifically sheds light on these effects.”
Alap Kshirsagar, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, is the paper’s first author. In the study, humans competed against a robot in a tedious task – counting the number of times the letter G appears in a string of characters, and then placing a block in the bin corresponding to the number of occurrences. The person’s chance of winning each round was determined by a lottery based on the difference between the human’s and robot’s scores: If their scores were the same, the human had a 50 percent chance of winning the prize, and that likelihood rose or fell depending which participant was doing better.
To make sure competitors were aware of the stakes, the screen indicated their chance of winning at each moment.
After each round, participants filled out a questionnaire rating the robot’s competence, their own competence and the robot’s likability. The researchers found that as the robot performed better, people rated its competence higher, its likability lower and their own competence lower.
###
The research was partly supported by the Israel Science Foundation.
Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog wrote about robots in The dangers of trusting robots.

According to Selinger and Hartzog:

We also need to think long and hard about how information is being stored and shared when it comes to robots that can record our every move. Some recording devices may have been designed for entertainment but can easily be adapted for more nefarious purposes. Take Nixie, the wearable camera that can fly off your wrist at a moment’s notice and take aerial shots around you. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how such technology could be abused.
Most people guard their secrets in the presence of a recording device. But what happens once we get used to a robot around the house, answering our every beck and call? We may be at risk of letting our guard down, treating them as extended members of the family. If the technology around us is able to record and process speech, images and movement – never mind eavesdrop on our juiciest secrets – what will happen to that information? Where will it be stored, who will have access? If our internet history is anything to go by, these details could be worth their weight in gold to advertising companies. If we grow accustomed to having trusted robots integrated into our daily lives, our words and deeds could easily become overly-exposed…. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150812-how-to-tell-a-good-robot-from-the-bad

We have to prove that digital manufacturing is inclusive. Then, the true narrative will emerge: Welcome, robots. You’ll help us. But humans are still our future.
Joe Kaeser

Resources:

Artificial Intelligence Will Redesign Healthcare                             https://medicalfuturist.com/artificial-intelligence-will-redesign-healthcare

9 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Affecting the Medical Field https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/8-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-affecting-the-medical-field#slide=2

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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