48 research outputs found

    Replication, Communication, and the Population Dynamics of Scientific Discovery

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    Many published research results are false, and controversy continues over the roles of replication and publication policy in improving the reliability of research. Addressing these problems is frustrated by the lack of a formal framework that jointly represents hypothesis formation, replication, publication bias, and variation in research quality. We develop a mathematical model of scientific discovery that combines all of these elements. This model provides both a dynamic model of research as well as a formal framework for reasoning about the normative structure of science. We show that replication may serve as a ratchet that gradually separates true hypotheses from false, but the same factors that make initial findings unreliable also make replications unreliable. The most important factors in improving the reliability of research are the rate of false positives and the base rate of true hypotheses, and we offer suggestions for addressing each. Our results also bring clarity to verbal debates about the communication of research. Surprisingly, publication bias is not always an obstacle, but instead may have positive impacts---suppression of negative novel findings is often beneficial. We also find that communication of negative replications may aid true discovery even when attempts to replicate have diminished power. The model speaks constructively to ongoing debates about the design and conduct of science, focusing analysis and discussion on precise, internally consistent models, as well as highlighting the importance of population dynamics

    Auditing Elon Musk's Impact on Hate Speech and Bots

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    On October 27th, 2022, Elon Musk purchased Twitter, becoming its new CEO and firing many top executives in the process. Musk listed fewer restrictions on content moderation and removal of spam bots among his goals for the platform. Given findings of prior research on moderation and hate speech in online communities, the promise of less strict content moderation poses the concern that hate will rise on Twitter. We examine the levels of hate speech and prevalence of bots before and after Musk's acquisition of the platform. We find that hate speech rose dramatically upon Musk purchasing Twitter and the prevalence of most types of bots increased, while the prevalence of astroturf bots decreased.Comment: 3 figures, 1 tabl

    No Love Among Haters: Negative Interactions Reduce Hate Community Engagement

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    While online hate groups pose significant risks to the health of online platforms and safety of marginalized groups, little is known about what causes users to become active in hate groups and the effect of social interactions on furthering their engagement. We address this gap by first developing tools to find hate communities within Reddit, and then augment 11 subreddits extracted with 14 known hateful subreddits (25 in total). Using causal inference methods, we evaluate the effect of replies on engagement in hateful subreddits by comparing users who receive replies to their first comment (the treatment) to equivalent control users who do not. We find users who receive replies are less likely to become engaged in hateful subreddits than users who do not, while the opposite effect is observed for a matched sample of similar-sized non-hateful subreddits. Using the Google Perspective API and VADER, we discover that hateful community first-repliers are more toxic, negative, and attack the posters more often than non-hateful first-repliers. In addition, we uncover a negative correlation between engagement and attacks or toxicity of first-repliers. We simulate the cumulative engagement of hateful and non-hateful subreddits under the contra-positive scenario of friendly first-replies, finding that attacks dramatically reduce engagement in hateful subreddits. These results counter-intuitively imply that, although under-moderated communities allow hate to fester, the resulting environment is such that direct social interaction does not encourage further participation, thus endogenously constraining the harmful role that these communities could play as recruitment venues for antisocial beliefs.Comment: 13 pages, 5 figures, 2 table