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The Songkran Festival is a traditional Thai New Year's celebration that takes place annually from April 13th to 15th. It is known for its water-throwing festivities, where people pour water on each other as a symbol of purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck.

The name Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, which means "astrological passage," and marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand.

During the festival, people also visit temples, offer food to Buddhist monks, and participate in cultural activities such as parades and traditional dances. The holiday is an important time for families to come together and pay respect to their elders, as well as for friends to reunite and celebrate the start of a new year.

In recent years, the water-throwing aspect of Songkran has become more of a party atmosphere, with many young people taking to the streets to splash water on each other and engage in friendly water fights. Despite this shift in tone, the festival remains an important cultural tradition in Thailand, and is recognized as a public holiday across the country.

In addition to the water-throwing festivities, Songkran also involves other traditional customs and practices. One of the most important is the pouring of scented water on Buddha images, which symbolizes the washing away of bad luck and the accumulation of merit. This practice is known as "Rod Nam Dum Hua" and is considered a way to pay respect to one's ancestors and elders.

Another important aspect of Songkran is the creation of sand pagodas. Thai people often visit the beach during the holiday to build intricate sand structures that are believed to bring good luck and blessings. These pagodas are adorned with flowers, incense, and candles, and are seen as a way to honor Buddha and the teachings of Buddhism.

Songkran is also a time for delicious food and traditional sweets, such as "kanom tom," a sweet dessert made of sticky rice and coconut milk, and "khanom krok," a small cake made from rice flour and coconut milk. Additionally, many Thai people wear traditional clothing during the festival, such as "chut thai," which consists of a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wrap-around skirt for women.

Overall, the Songkran Festival is a time for joy, happiness, and togetherness. It is an opportunity for Thai people to reconnect with their cultural roots, pay respect to their elders, and celebrate the start of a new year with family and friends.

Weight Loss Goals For The New Year: How To Make Sure They’re Realistic

Weight loss goals are never easy to stick to in the new year: we all know how many people give up even before the end of January! But if you set your goals the right way, making sure they’re realistic, then you really can use the new year as a way of achieving the fitness levels you’ve always wanted.

Understanding Why People FailThe main reason why people fail to meet their weight loss goals is because they aren’t motivated enough. When you aren’t motivated it’s easy to find other things to do instead of exercising, and it’s easy to start seeing exercise as a bore or a burden. This is why it’s important to set a resolution that really matters to you, instead of choosing an arbitrary goal.

How To Set Achievable Goals

The key is to make sure that the weight loss goals you set are achievable – both physically and mentally. First, you’ll need to start with motivation. Simply sitting down and thinking about all of the reasons why you want to lose weight or start exercising can get you excited about the prospect. Maybe you want to gain confidence, maybe you want to feel more energized again. Whatever it is, know what you are working for!

Next, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself and recognize your weaknesses. You’ve let things go for a reason – maybe you have a really sweet tooth, or maybe you got so busy or tired in your day to day life that exercise became less of a priority. By being really honest about what has stopped you in the past you can make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Putting Together A Realistic Plan

Now that you’ve recognized your motivations and weaknesses, it’s time to put together a realistic plan. The more specific you are, the better – it’ll help keep you on track even through the tough days. This means setting a plan on how often you’ll exercise, where you’ll do it, and how long for. You’ll soon realize that it isn’t too difficult to fit 30 minutes of exercise into your day to day life!

Don’t forget that you’ll also need to combine dietary changes with your exercise. But don’t take on too much at once! Many people choose to go on crash diets in the new year only to give up within a few weeks. Start with something small, such as reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee. When you’re used to it, make another small change to your diet. The key is to make sure you’re not left craving all the foods you used to love – remember, the goal is to be realistic.

Americans share fake news to fit in with social circles

  • Journalism and Facts
  • Social Media and Internet
  • Politics

Fear of exclusion contributes to spread of fake news, research finds

Read the journal article

  • Tribalism and Tribulations (PDF, 495KB)

WASHINGTON — Both conservative and liberal Americans share fake news because they don’t want to be ostracized from their social circles, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Conformity and social pressure are key motivators of the spread of fake news,” said lead researcher Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, an assistant professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, a business school in France. “If someone in your online tribe is sharing fake news, then you feel pressure to share it as well, even if you don’t know whether it’s false or true.”

The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The proliferation of fake news contributes to increasing political polarization and distrust of democratic institutions, according to the Brookings Institution. But fake news doesn’t always proliferate due to dark motives or a call for action. The researchers began studying the issue after noticing people in their own social networks sharing fake news seemingly without malicious intent or ideological purpose.

“Political ideology alone doesn’t explain people’s tendency to share fake news within their social groups,” Lawson said. “There are many factors at play, including the very basic desire to fit in and not to be excluded.”

One experiment analyzed the tweets and political ideology of more than 50,000 pairs of Twitter users in the U.S., including tweets sharing fake or hyper-partisan news between August and December 2020. (Political ideology was determined through a network-based algorithm that imputes ideology by looking at the types of accounts Twitter users follow.) The number of tweets between pairs of Twitter users in the same social circles were measured. Twitter users were less likely to interact with each other over time if one of them shared a fake news story and the other did not share that same story. The same effect was found regardless of political ideology but was stronger for more right-leaning participants.

A second experiment analyzed 10,000 Twitter users who had shared fake news in the prior test, along with another group that was representative of Twitter users in general. Twitter users who had shared fake news were more likely to exclude other users who didn’t share the same content, suggesting that social pressures may be particularly acute in the fake news ecosystem.

Across several additional online experiments, participants indicated a reduced desire to interact with social connections who failed to share the same fake news. Participants who were more concerned about the social costs of not fitting in were also more likely to share fake news.

While fake news may seem prolific, prior research has found that fake news only accounts for 0.15% of Americans’ daily media consumption, and 1% of individuals are responsible for 80% of fake news sharing. Other research found that election-related misinformation on Twitter decreased by 73% after Donald Trump was banned from the platform.

Many complex factors contribute to people’s decisions to share fake news so reducing its spread is difficult, and the role of social media companies isn’t always clear, Lawson said.

“Pre-bunking” methods that inform people about the ways that misinformation spreads and highlighting the importance of the accuracy of news can help reduce the spread of fake news. However, finding ways to ease the social pressure to conform in online spaces may be needed to start winning the war on misinformation, Lawson said.

Article: “Tribalism and Tribulations: The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News,” Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, INSEAD, Shikhar Anand, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Hemant Kakkar, PhD, Duke University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online March 9, 2023.