Meet the Physicist Predicting When Online Hate Will Turn to Real-World Violence

February 10, 2020

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About a half-mile from the White House, a presentation on online extremism is taking place at George Washington University (GW). The precise setting, however, is unusual: The event is in the physics building, rather than one of the political science halls across the street, and the discussion is being led by a fast-talking and personable British physicist. 

Neil Johnson starts things off in unorthodox fashion, placing some props in the middle of a conference table: a snack-size Ziploc bag filled with multicolored paperclips and a cylindrical container holding 100 Chinese “fortune sticks.” 

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