Modelling Life in Art and Science

Art and science have more in common that they differ in the way they use models

Suppose that you’re interested in how false beliefs – ‘fake news’ – spread across a population. The problem is extraordinarily complicated. What people come to believe depends on a myriad of factors: which news outlets they read; who their friends and colleagues are; their ability to distinguish between fact and fiction; their social media echo chamber; and so on. A very good way of investigating a complicated phenomenon is to model it. This involves the construction of a simplified version of it and the investigation of the behaviour of that simplified version in order to draw conclusions about the actual system of interest. Both of these steps require a curious and playful outlook. 

We can play around with different ways to model the spread of fake news. A creative suggestion is to model it as a disease. A simple way to do this is to take a toy model from epidemiology, e.g. the susc

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