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Don't (just) blame echo chambers. Conspiracy theorists actively seek out their online communities

The term illuminati has been used since the late 15th century, and applied to various groups since then.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Turn down for what? Why you turn down the radio when you're trying to park your car

When you're looking for a destination, you might need to cut down the volume Shutterstock

You’re driving down an unfamiliar street on a clear spring evening. You’ve been invited to a friend of a friend’s party, at a house you’ve never been to before.

Originally published in The Conversation.

The main problem with virtual reality? It's almost as humdrum as real life

Virtual horse racing, at a real racecourse? Zero points for imagination. Rachel Grey/AAP Image

Just a few years ago, virtual reality (VR) was being showered with very real money.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Place your bets: will banning illegal offshore sites really help kick our gambling habit?

While total gambling spending in Australia decreased during 2016-17, sports betting increased by 15.3%, from A$921 million to A$1.062 billion. SHUTTERSTOCK

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is The Conversation.

Is social media damaging to children and teens? We asked five experts

They need to have it to fit in, but social media is probably doing teens more harm than good. from

If you have kids, chances are you’ve worried about their presence on social media.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Research funding announcements have become a political tool, creating crippling uncertainty for academics

There’s a lot of uncertainty in a research career. Most funding – and most jobs – are doled out by the project, or in chunks of a few years at a time.

Recently, however, the situation has been made even worse by delays in announcements of government funding – delays that appear to be caused by government using announcements for political advantage.

How research funding works

The federal government is a major funder of basic research in Australia, issuing close to A$800 million in grants each year via the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Originally published in The Conversation.

Virtual tools, real fires: how holograms and other tech could help outsmart bushfires

In many countries including America, computer models are being used to predict how a fire will burn. Author provided

Australia continues to experience unprecedented destruction

Originally published in The Conversation.

Holy bin chickens: ancient Egyptians tamed wild ibis for sacrifice

A scene from the Books of the Dead (based at the Egyptian Museum) shows the ibis-headed god Thoth recording the result of "the final judgement". Wasef et al./PLOS ONE, CC BY-SA

These days

Originally published in The Conversation.

As flames encroach, those at risk may lose phone signal when they need it most

Yesterday, New South Wales and Queensland issued fire warnings classified as either “catastrophic”, “severe” or “extreme” - and these conditions will remain in the coming days.

Originally published in The Conversation.

If you've given your DNA to a DNA database, US police may now have access to it

DNA database giant Ancestry lets members access international records including the convict and free settler lists, passenger lists, Australian and New Zealand electoral rolls and military records. Patrick Alexander/Flickr,

Originally published in The Conversation.