Last week, before a Trump mob attacked the Capitol, the president addressed his suffering supporters, full of lies, false information, and conspiracy theories.
“The media is the biggest problem I know, and the biggest problem is fake news,” Trump told supporters. “We won this election, and we won it by landslide.”
Trump didn’t win the election. Election officials and the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security said the November presidential election was fair and Congress recognized Joe Biden as the presidential election on Thursday. However, Trump’s speech and the confusion and violence it caused show dangerous cultural, political, and human consequences of misinformation. According to experts, certain factors can increase the likelihood that someone will believe in incorrect information, but all of us are vulnerable.
“We are all vulnerable,” said Dolores Alvarasin, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who studies attitudes, communication, and behavior. “Is the Earth round because many of our beliefs cannot be physically verified? We need to trust sources and documents. When we trust sources we trust, we all The source is wrong, but generally safe. If you trust something you don’t trust, we’re in danger. “
A 2019 Ipsos survey of online users found that 86% fell into “fake news” at least once in their lifetime, and a 2014 survey found that at least about half of Americans fall into “fake news” each year. I believe in one conspiracy theory.
“I don’t think I fully understand the consequences of communicating bad information,” said Alton Pukins, a Poynter Institute expert who teaches media literacy to older people. “We have a personal, moral, ethical and civil responsibility to do a basic amount of research to find out if what we are telling is true.”
What is “fake news”, it’s not
Trump has endeavored to make “fake news” synonymous with mainstream media. However, conspiracy theories, false alarms, and disinformation are more often found on social media, anonymous posts, and fringe websites that disguise false or misleading content in the guise of legitimate news.
According to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, many Americans say that the spread of the news that has been created is causing serious harm.
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“From the irony of government, the media and science, to actions that hurt individuals and others, to massive damage to public property and riots, there are countless consequences,” Albarracín said.
Albarracin said there is an important difference between false information and conspiracy theories. According to her, the incorrect information states something inaccurate. It is inaccurate that the 2020 elections were fraudulent. However, conspiracy theories like QAnon are more elaborate and are much more difficult to fix because they don’t trust information that could prove that the theory isn’t true.
The danger of always wanting to be right
Humans want to be right, and when they look up information, they do it to make sure they already believe. It is called “confirmation bias”.
“It’s always easier to incorporate the information you already believe in,” Tompkins said. “It’s much more difficult and requires a whole different level of intellectual and emotional maturity to capture information that isn’t in your favor. That’s not what you currently believe.”
It can also shut down productive conversations and sound discussions when someone always feels they need to be right.
“One way to do the right thing is to just make it bigger,” Tompkins said. “And there is an equal reaction to the opposite, which is very detrimental to democracy, which means that other people just withdraw from the conversation … when they check out, a powerful voice dominates. It will be a typical voice. “
Are some people easier targets?
People who get news primarily from social media are at higher risk. According to Pew’s report released in July, Americans who rely primarily on social media for news are more likely to be exposed to conspiracy theories: “2020 elections, coronavirus pandemic, political news. People tend to have little general knowledge. People who rely on news websites, cable or network TVs, radios, and prints. “
According to a 2017 survey, “Support for News Media Literacy and Conspiracy Theory,” those with a deeper understanding of news media are less likely to believe in conspiracy theory.
“Individuals with a high level of literacy are in a better position to navigate the endless stream of media messages and become more proactive, empowered and critical news consumers,” the author writes. I am.
According to Penny Cook, there are also unique motivational factors that can cause people to get involved in misinformation. For example, I want to find an explanation for a child being ill. Fear and anxiety can contribute to susceptibility.
How to avoid “fake news”
Mr. Tompkins said that we are all responsible for the way information is consumed and shared.Sometimes the way we talk about false information is “assuming that [people aren’t] I can protect myself and I don’t think it’s the way to see it. “
Fake news:What is it and how to find it
All of us have a duty to establish the accuracy of the information before passing it on. Tompkins said it was important to ask questions.
- What do i know
- What do you need to know?
- How can I find out what I know?
- And is there any other way to see it?
“Have you ever done a minimal amount of work to see if there was another way to see it?” He asked.
How to help someone when you see them falling due to incorrect information
Show your willingness to listen when engaging with someone who believes in unfactual information. Trying to tell someone what to believe doesn’t work, but you can offer to help someone explore their ideas.
Penny Cook said he could also refer to the “Debanking Handbook” produced by dozens of scholars. This handbook first states the truth clearly and concisely, and contains tips for correcting false information, such as how myths are misleading and reinforce the facts.
Educating people about facts and methods of verification has been shown to work as well as characterizing theory as illogical. But this must happen before someone who has joined a conspiracy theory called “pre-banking,” Albarracin said.
“The most effective way is to prevent the formation of these beliefs,” she said. “It’s easy to introduce a belief, but it’s much harder to change it.”
Tip:I’m a former CIA analyst trained to find fake news. Here’s how you do it too.
Parliamentary Riot, Fake News, Conspiracy Theory Psychology
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