Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

Facts and Opinions is on a reduced publishing schedule until after Labour Day in September, when our regular columnists and schedule will return.

What Comes After Colombia’s Peace Deal?   By Annette Idler  Analysis

What will happen after the  Colombian government and the guerrilla group FARC finalized a peace deal, ending the long-running war?  An official end to war with the FARC is only the start of the road to peace.

Mudlarks and History on the Thames  By Neal Hall   Photo-essay

A torch on his head, Jason Sandy scours the nighttime London foreshores of the Thames river, searching for objects that could offer a glimpse of life in the British capital hundreds of years ago.

Confirmation Bias: The Death of Truth  By Tom Regan  Column

My first real exposure to people not wanting the truth, but only hearing what they want to hear, happened  25 years ago. My friend Deb Amos, NPR’s well-known and extremely talented Middle East reporter, had been invited to speak to an elderly Jewish group in Boston about her experiences in Israel and Palestine. Then an interesting thing happened.

An artists' conception of what Proxima b might look like. Image: © European Southern Observatory

An artists’ conception of what Proxima b might look like. Image: © European Southern Observatory

Findings:

Literary fiction by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Harper Lee and Toni Morrison helps improve readers’ understanding of other people’s emotions, according to new research – but genre writing, from authors including Danielle Steel and Clive Cussler, does not. The Guardian reports.

This week’s announcement that a newly-discovered planet, Proxima b, may be habitable and (relatively) near by  has space researchers, futurists, scientists of all stripes and fantasists hoping for an escape from earth excited.  Already, a robotic mission is planned.  See Wikipedia’s page for details.

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