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A 3D render of a polygraph lie detector machine drawing red lines on graph paper

Polygraphs: Combatting Networks of Ignorance in the Misinformation Age

Misinformation is spreading through society, on social media networks and elsewhere, about a range of important topics. But in democratic societies, appropriate action requires large groups to form reasonable opinions, or attitudes, on what are often complex issues. This project aims to understand how groups can remain ignorant whether through error or omission and for how long, even when group members act rationally and assess evidence that itself points to the truth. We ask how group knowledge and beliefs form, and how “higher-order” information (e.g. knowing there is a misinformant in the group) improves individual judgement. The interdisciplinary project employs computer simulations of large, realistic social networks. The results will yield new evidence about the metaphysics of group attitudes and shed light on current debates on the use of higher-order evidence. In turn, our philosophical simulations may: provide insights in the deployment of existing economic models of information sharing; challenge assumptions about computational workloads on graphs; and ultimately inform company and government policy.

View the project website.


Paolo Ciuccarelli and Todd Linkner

CfD Team Members

Other Team Members

Brian Ball, Joli Holmes, Alexandros Koliousis, Amil Mohanan and Mike Peacey


Northeastern University London

Research Areas

Design + Data