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Some Scientists Believe Loneliness is Becoming an Epidemic
Loneliness isn't just for the elderly, more adults 18 to 24 report these feelings of isolation, which make people depressed, stand-offish, and untrustworthy. So, how can you cure the lonely?
More and more adults report feeling lonely. It's not just the elderly, but younger adults 18 to 24 that are reporting these feelings of isolation. John Cacioppo and Stephanie Cacioppo from New Scientist write that loneliness is becoming a modern epidemic, even when we're more connected than ever, these thoughts of being alone together are breaking us down.
Humans are social creatures--we thrive in groups and decline when we're alone for too long, often becoming depressed. But the Cacioppos explain that loneliness doesn't just mean being physically alone, it can also mean feeling like you're on the social perimeter of a group.
In nature, fish on the edge of the school are more likely to be attacked by predators, so their sense of self-preservation heightens. When placed in isolated situations, social animals switch their behavior to concentrate on short-term survival. But this alteration in thinking comes at the cost of long-term health if this behavior persists without resolve.
People can become socially withdrawn over time, which can make them hostile toward others. Risk of cognitive decline increases in addition to impulsive behavior. This behavior is leftover from our ancestors in the days when tribes and groups meant success or death. But in our modern society, these old psychological triggers stop some of us from thriving in bigger cities and communities where we're more apt to feel alone in a crowd.
The Cacioppos report that therapies to reduce these feelings have had little effect on people's isolated states. However, one intervention study that focused on having participants talk through their feelings of low self-worth and untrustworthy thoughts toward others held the most promise. Whereas classes involving social training with opportunities to meet people were actually the least effective.
"Given the scale of the problem today, the hunt for better treatments of all types deserves high priority."
Loneliness has become a real threat to our health. Some scientists have begun to compare the threats to that of moderate smoking and alcoholism. There are many options to help combat loneliness, in real time or over the internet.
Read more at New Scientist
Read more at Psych Central
Photo Credit: Geraint Rowland/Flickr
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.