Facebook’s Libra: it’s not the ‘crypto’ that’s the issue, it’s the organisation behind it

The founding partners of the Libra Association.
Ascannio / Shutterstock.com

Bill Maurer, University of California, Irvine and Daniel Tischer, University of Bristol

In all the hype that has surrounded its Libra currency, Facebook has been able to distract attention away from an important issue. Libra is being hyped as Facebook’s bitcoin but it’s really a proposal for a global payments system. And that system will be controlled by a small and exclusive club of private firms. Continue reading

Anne Frank and the Holocaust: how death rates varied across the Netherlands under Nazi occupation

Kamp Westerbork.
Shutterstock/Arjen Dijk

Peter Tammes, University of Bristol

The diarist Anne Frank was born almost 90 years ago. But she lived for only 15 years, dying in a Nazi concentration camp shortly before it was liberated by Allied forces in 1945. To mark the anniversary of her birth, a new collection of Frank’s writing has been published, and a “novel” version of her famous diary released in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Continue reading

Institutionalising preventive health: what are the key issues for Public Health England?

By Takver from Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikime

Authors: Paul Cairney, John Boswell, Richard Gleave, Kathryn Oliver

The Green Paper on preventing ill health was published in July 2019, and many have criticised that proposals do not go far enough. Our guest blog explores some of the challenges that Public Health England face in providing evidence-informed advice. Read on to discover the reflections from a recent workshop on using evidence to influence local and national strategy and their implications for academic engagement with policymakers. Continue reading

How can researchers engage with policy?

Policymaking is a complex and messy process; the evidence base is just one factor in decision making. Image from Sausages, evidence and policymaking: The role of universities in a post-truth world, Policy Institute at Kings 2017

Blog by Dr Alisha Davies, Dr Laura Howe, Prof Debbie Lawlor, Dr Lindsey Pike

Policy engagement is becoming more of a priority in academic life, as emphasis shifts from focusing purely on academic outputs to creating impact from research. Research impact is defined by UKRI as ‘the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’. Continue reading

Extinction Rebellion uses tactics that toppled dictators – but we live in a liberal democracy

XR protesters getting carried away. Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA.

Oscar Berglund, University of Bristol

After occupying parts of central London over two weeks in April, Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) summer uprising has now spread to Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Bristol. All these protests involve disruption, breaking the law and activists seeking arrest.

Emotions are running high, with many objecting to the disruption. At the same time, the protests have got people and the media talking about climate change. XR clearly represents something new and unusual, which has the power to annoy or enthuse people. But what led it to adopt such disruptive tactics in its efforts to demand action on climate change? Continue reading

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls

Trump’s poll numbers went up after high levels of Russian troll activity, though Clinton’s didn’t go down.
AP/Mary Altaffer, Chuck Burton

Damian Ruck, University of Bristol

When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered.

But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump. Continue reading

E-cigarettes: why I’m optimistic they will stub smoking out for good

Shutterstock/Lumen Photos

Jasmine Khouja, University of Bristol

There are over a billion smokers across the world – a habit which causes more than 7m deaths per year. We have known that smoking kills for decades, but this simple fact has not been enough to persuade every smoker to quit. Continue reading

Older and poorer communities are left behind by the decline of cash

File 20190515 60554 1gg9he7.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
An increasingly rare sight.
ShutterStockStudio / Shutterstock.com

Daniel Tischer, University of Bristol; Jamie Evans, University of Bristol, and Sara Davies, University of Bristol

A future without cash seems almost inevitable. Recent statistics paint a damning picture: while cash accounted for 62% of all payments by volume in 2006, this dropped to 40% in just a decade and is predicted to fall yet further to 21% by 2026. Continue reading