Blame the humans, not the bots, for retweeting false news

gif via Ryan Seslow

According to research done by data scientists at MIT, it is humans, not bots, which disseminate false news.

The study began with the 2013 Boston bombings when Twitter spread inaccurate rumors about the aftermath of the events.

The three authors of the study then took it upon themselves to dig deeper into the fake news phenomenon by examining tweets of 3 million users from the years 2006 to 2017.

Blame the humans, not the machines

The overarching result is that false news spreads faster than real news because people on Twitter are more likely to retweet novelty. Said MIT professor and researcher Sinan Aral, “We found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, bots accelerate the spread of true and false stories at the same rate. False news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”

Sensationalism stokes retweets. In fact, “false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.”

MIT scientists believe misinformation also runs rampant on Facebook but is harder to detect because it lives in the echo chambers of a walled garden: FB groups, private posts, and direct messages (re: dark social). Because of Russia’s election meddling in 2016, both Facebook and Twitter are finally taking efforts to improve their platforms for better veracity detection. Fact-checking is more vital than ever.

Humans are suckers for captivating but erroneous news. Some people even refuse to let go. As Mark Twain so wisely noted, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” The good news is that the truth never expires, even if it takes longer to percolate.

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No longer thinking straight

We are suckers for fake news not necessarily because we want to believe it’s true, but because the world has become so chaotic and polluted with noisy opinions that the possibilities are endless.

The coexistence of anxiety and confirmation bias prevents us from thinking clearly. We are stuck in perpetual worry of the next terrorist attack, natural disaster, and baseless tweet.

Even worse, the facts don’t change our minds. We are ignorantly settled on we think is right and only collect information that solidifies our beliefs.

We reject any proof, having lost our ability to rise above sidedness altogether. Our entire system of beliefs, beliefs about beliefs, are in a state of flux because we’re obsessed with being right.

We’ve lost our ability to pause and reflect, allowing the suck of dopamine to woo our biases instead.

The loop of deception feeds off our inattention. We are trapped in the illusion of knowledge.

Newsletter: The Coltrane Doctrine 🎷

Web Gems


John Coltrane and Einstein shared interests in mathematical principles. In response to the Coltrane doctrine (image below), Thelonious Monk replied: “All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”


+ Now that ⚾ is back, here’s a little-known fact on how the game influenced jazz music.


“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’ What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive. It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. Charles Darwin and Ernest Hemingway were slackers.


Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”


She makes dumplings by day and spins records by night. Check out 82-year-old Japanese woman DJ Dumpling. Watch the video.

Poll: What’s your jukebox preference: iTunes or Spotify?


Scientists have shown again and again that the mind, like a piece of software, is elastic. We are the sum of a hundred billion neurons that strengthen through knowledge and experience. Our skull evolves within a gooey flesh.

But there has to be a cap on human acuity, surely. At some point, exponents can’t go any further. We can’t get any smarter, nor pinpoint the largest number which is infinity and beyond. Even “Moore’s Law peters out, “as microchip components reach the atomic scale and conventional lithography falters,” says computer scientist Scott Aaronson.


You’re either left brained or right. You’re either normal or mental. Rather, it’s a continuum of both. The stigma that goes along with differentness makes you an outsider, yet these ‘weirdos’ are exactly the ones crazy enough to change the world. Said the American mathematician John Nash: “I wouldn’t have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally.”

As Physician Dr. Gabor Mate explains in his interview, maybe we should make more space for those different to express themselves rather than hide in anguish.



“Go out into the streets of Paris and pick out a cab driver. He will look to you very much like every other cab driver. But study him until you can describe him so that he is seen in your description to be an individual, different from every other cab driver in the world.” — De Maupassant

+ Speaking of cars, “Americans are used to cars the way that fish are used to water.” Ezra Klein explains why we should take a cue from Barcelona.

Digging In The Crates


STUFF is a five piece instrumental band from Antwerp, Belgium. ‘Strata’ is the first track from the band’s second album old dreams new planets due out April 28th.

The song vacillates from broken jazz before weaving into a funky, electronic jungle. Says the quintet’s SoundCloud page, “it makes you doubt whether you’re at a rave or at a fusion jazz concert in some late 80’s basement.”



Noga Erez is an electronic music producer from Tel Aviv. ‘Off the Radar’ is one of the lead singles from her debut album of the same name.

Noga’s electro-pop vibes will most certainly remind you of MIA’s adventurism. Says the artist, “have this idea of giving people moments of thought and inspiration, and at the same time offering escapism and fun.”



With jungle nods to LTJ Bukem comes Mysterious of a Blunt, presumably an alias of Berlin-based techno producer Orson Wells.

Here’s how he describes his music-making process in an interview with EdHid:

 “It’s somehow a meditative process immersing yourself in a basic loop and trying to add selectively more elements based on your experiences you have collected. I didn’t have a mentor or did a programming study. Everything I do is the result of an autodidactic approach.”


For more interesting reads and new music, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or the Twitter feed. You can also subscribe to the blogs: and bombtune.comIf you dig the blogs and want to support them, make a donation, buy a book, or email this post to a friend.

Newsletter: Disinformation and Frappuccinos™

web gems

  1. What an American football team in southeastern Ukraine can teach the US about the perils of disinformation, a term created by the KGB in the 1950s.
  2. In 1992, George Howell AKA “The Coffee Shaman” created the Frappuccino™. In 1994, he sold his twelve Boston-based Coffee Connection stores to Starbucks for $24 million. He still hates cold brews.
  3. Technology shapes us. Cities shape us. But urbanites across the world are all becoming the same. Read Future Life in the City and the Growing Spaces Between Us
  4. The cubicle was intended to be the action of office. What we got instead was “a mania for uniformity.
  5. Moving to a virtual utopia is saving the disabled from ‘information porn.
  6. Polish artist continues to make his thought-provoking illustrations.
  7. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

digging in the crates

  1.  “I still have a lot of time for putting out 12 inches.” Joy Orbison wasn’t lying. It’s been five years since his last solo release, but Joy Orbison is back with all new EP on his own label TOSS PORTAL. ‘Rite Ov’ steps into a dub groove that even Mark Ernestus would appreciate. I just wish I had a better sound system to do the bass justice. |
  2. The Peter Franks Group is an instrumental and jazz beat collective from Bournemouth, England. The fresh and crisp flute-driven track ‘Leaving This Place’ is one of the standout tracks off the band’s album Days Past. ‘Inner Most’ is also a moody gem. | LISTEN
  3. “In 2005, while making his Saturday morning yard sale rounds around town, collector Blake Oliver stumbled upon a box of curiously marked tapes. At first, Oliver thought he’d found the lost masters from Clem Price and George Beter’s Columbus-based Prix label.” | LISTEN

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Tuning out the news


In today’s age, unfollowing the news will give you a peace of mind. News entertains, it dances with sensationalism and highlights disappointing stories. ‘As it turns out, your hobby of monitoring the “state of the world” did not actually affect the world,’ blogs David Cain in his piece ‘Five Things You Notice When You Quit the News.’

The news is candy for the mind. There’s little currency in meta-truth and more credibility in depth. Books will always be more dependable than the news. The future is apt to repeat the past because people never learned the history taught in books in the first place.

‘If we only care about the breadth of information, and not the depth, there’s not much distinction between “staying informed” and staying misinformed.’

People substitute care with attention, thinking that knowing the latest news on Aleppo shows genuine concern. Their opinions on the issue tip-toe around ideal resolutions without doing anything about it.

‘The sense of “at least I care” may actually prevent us from doing something concrete to help, because by watching sympathetically we don’t quite have to confront the reality that we’re doing absolutely nothing about it.’

It doesn’t matter how well-informed you are because you won’t do anything to ameliorate the situation. You don’t need more news to fill your echo chamber of partisanship; you need to listen with intent.

It’s not even worth consuming the news at all. While that may sound callous, to “remain uninvolved without feeling uninvolved,” can bring focus to the things where you can actually make a difference.

Forget what you heard

For many people, Facebook is their sole newspaper. One of the primary roles of a newspaper is to validate events rather than spread false rumors.

But fake news runs rampant on the platform because anyone can post it without consequence. Facebook does nothing to validate sources, especially since it fired its human curators and replaced them with an algorithm that amplifies noise, true or false. Twitter is equally culpable.

Should we believe anything on social media platforms? Probably not. But the press isn’t exactly trustworthy either. It also has an agenda, that which revolves around whichever drives the most site traffic and clicks.

Misinformation and lies are at the root of chaos. Even the smartest people can often be the most gullible, duped by comedians faking death.

If marketers are liars and social media is edited real life, people must also interpret the news with a grain of salt. Doubt everything.

Filtering out clickbait

Filter wisely
Filter wisely (via imgur)

Clickbait is the result of a 24/7 news cycle. Media companies create stories of unimportance so that they can get another click to drive up revenues. The entire operation intends to suck your attention and waste your time, along with depleting your brain cells.

In short, the news makes your brain fat. That’s why you have to step away from Twitter and reset your RSS feeds every six months. Delete the newsletters that contain links to useless articles. Or just read books. Consuming all the headlines makes none of them significant, leaving little room in your head for remembering what is actually important. Shane Parrish of the educational Farnam Street blog recently dissected the abundance of media in an article entitled ‘The Pot-Belly of Ignorance‘:

“Clickbait media is not a nutritious diet. Most people brush this off and say that it doesn’t matter … that it’s just harmless entertainment.

But it’s not harmless at all. Worse, it’s like cocaine. It causes our brains to light up and feel good. The more of it we consume, the more of it we want. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Be careful what you take in as it directly influences what you put back out. Even more, reflect on what you read since that’s where you connect ideas and start to develop your own. Of course, you need to identify the trustworthy sources. Start with the publication and curators you trust and make a list of potential resources based off of their hyperlinks.
Fill your mind with less, not more. And most importantly, work it off, trying to make sense of what you absorbed in the attempt to craft an original thought.

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News makes your brain fat

source (3)
via Peekasso

News can be toxic. When consumed in excess, it can make your mind fat like eating fast food. You need to leave space in your brain for thinking, which means you need to reduce cognitive load. Writer and author Rolf Dobelli has spent the last four years ignoring the news.

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.

If you have a tendency to succumb to the inundation of cheap headlines, consider spending your time consuming slow media instead. Read a book, listen to an entire album — concentrate on the whole rather than snacking on the parts. The news wants to interrupt you and impede comprehension.

In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.

Part of people’s fascination with the news is to confirm their own partisanship — Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC. To quote Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

As someone who scans the feeds to pluck interesting things–Twitter, RSS, Facebook, you name it — I see a lot of noise and very little signal. Breaking news is broken news; it clouds the brain with unnecessary knowing and anxiety, made worse by the fact that there’s nothing you can do to influence it.

So slow down. Take three deep breaths and reconsider the urge to know, especially when the news causes you to know less. No news is good news.

How the Kindle teaches you to avoid distractions

kindle one task only

There are only two ways to read a book: own a hard copy or read books on Kindle. Reading in the Kindle app on the iPhone is not the same as reading on a standalone Kindle device. On the phone, you are a click away from checking the dopamine-hitting social media feeds, email, and text/push message disturbances.

Reading requires focus, which is why the Kindle works. The Kindle is intentionally minimalist–its magic lies within its subtraction of features rather than extra bells and whistles of a smartphone. It constrains what you do, associating the task with the device.

When Seth Godin goes to write his blog posts, he does it within Typepad. When business people want to hold important meetings, they go to the office. When athletes train, they hit the gym. People use devices or places as triggers for experiences. 

The mobile phone brings everything to your fingertips, a computer that also acts as a camera, a wallet, music player and recorder. It is one of the most innovative inventions of our time because of its convergence and ‘always on’ Internet-connectedness. But with the Kindle device, you can only do one thing well: Read.

Browsing the Internet on Kindle is a frustrating experience, on purpose. On the other hand, playing music or using credit cards at the grocery are more convenient living as consolidations in the phone. They are better for multitasking with other activities than living as single standalone devices.

Kindle means to read just as Google is synonymous with search. These tools excel at doing one thing. As more technology gets integrates into our devices, some activities like reading will be best served on a designated screen.

Uber takes ridesharing next level with self-driving cars

While Tesla and Google are perfecting driverless car technology, Uber will be the first to go to market with it. Later this month, the cab company will release 100 specialized Volvo SUVs in the city of Pittsburgh.

While the cars are not entirely autonomous–an Uber engineer will be riding copilot–Uber customers can still use the app to arrange pickups. The service will be free initially to encourage ridership.

Uber’s announcement comes on the heels of Google announcing its own ride-sharing service. For that reason, Uber bought Otto, a truck-startup, to help Uber build autonomous trucks.

“In order to provide digital services in the physical world, we must build sophisticated logistics, artificial intelligence and robotics systems that serve and elevate humanity.” — Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber

Like Apple, Uber prefers to disrupt itself before others beat it at its own game. The faster Uber moves, the closer relationship it develops with society and the economy at large.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.’ — William Gibson” quote=”‘The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.’ — William Gibson”]

Jack White launches the first record to play in space

Impossible is nothing. Jack White’s record label Third Man Records successfully launched the first played record in space, 94 feet above the Earth before it burst. White originally discussed the idea with Neil De Grasse Tyson in 2012.

For the entire hour and twenty minutes of ascension, the Icarus turntable faithfully played Carl Sagan’s “A Glorious Dawn” (from “Cosmos” by Symphony of Science composer John Boswell) on repeat, using an impressively sturdy phono cartridge and stylus as well as an onboard flight computer programmed with a few different actions to keep the record playing while it was safe to do so.

Well done Jack and team. You even beat Daft Punk to space. Next on the list: DJing all the way to Mars.

Podcasts I’m Digging

Podcasts keep your mind fresh. Listening to them is like going back to school but you get to take the courses you want without the added pressure of an exam afterward.

From The Kernel:

“Hearing a podcast, on headphones, is the most intense listening experience I’ve ever had—and I’m addicted to it. I am putting someone else’s voice, their thoughts, directly into my head. My inner monologue ceases; their thoughts replace my thoughts. I know that sounds like a sci-fi dystopia. In fact, I find it an incredible way to interact with the world.”

Listening to podcasts is pure enjoyment.

Podcasts are also the perfect multitasking activity. You can pipe tidbits of important information into your head while you go along with your day. They’re especially helpful when you’re doing menial work in Excel. But I’ve also noticed that listening to podcasts while doing the dishes takes the listening to another level. Try it and let me know if you have the same augmented experience.

So what are my favorite podcasts? I listen to a variety of them but below are my top 5. You’ll get everything you need to know about art, history, entrepreneurship, and life hacking from these.

Podcast Earworms

  1. The Tim Ferriss Show
  2. 99% Invisible
  3. HBR IdeaCast
  4. In Our Time
  5. On Being with Krista Tippet

If you’re new to podcasting or looking to get back into it, download Overcast and pay up for all the extra features and then search for the above Podcasts.

+Occassionally, I’ll summarize a Podcast on my blog like I did with Maria Popova on the Tim Ferriss Show.