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Curiosity is the cure for ignorance in our post-truth era

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Scientists have stepped up their investigations into fake news in recent months, and amid all the analyses, studies and meetings, some have raised the possibility that a lot of people simply don't care whether the claims they embrace are true.

"Post-truth" has become a hot topic for researchers from a variety of fields, including Nobel prize-winning chemists: The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany recently took as a theme "Science in a Post-Truth Era".

Sceptics have long studied why people wrongly believe in astrology, ESP and all manner of weird things, but not caring about truth at all would seem to fly in the face of basic human curiosity. People send probes to other planets, dig up dinosaur bones, and build powerful microscopes to find out the truth about inner and outer space. We follow crime stories because we want to learn what really happened. Shouldn't curiosity act as a guardrail to keep us from falling into a post-truth world?

Astrophysicist Mario Livio makes a key observation in his new book, Why?: What Makes Us Curious: To be truly curious requires a middling level of knowledge. If you know absolutely nothing, then........

© Canberra Times