I was reading this article [1] from Foreign Policy and found this passage really interesting:

"The issue that Americans have chosen to ignore over the past 20 months is why the public has so deeply embraced and then spread alleged misinformation from China, Iran, or Russia. The issue that Americans have chosen to ignore over the past 20 months is why the public has so deeply embraced and then spread alleged misinformation from China, Iran, or Russia. Politicians and pundits have chosen to blame the United States’ divides on its adversaries, but that is like trying to curb illegal drug use by focusing solely on the foreign countries where the drugs are produced (forgetting, of course, that many drugs are produced at home). The appetite for selective, biased, or partisan information is growing, and it will continue to do so given apparent trends in the U.S. public’s information literacy, critical thinking, and partisanship. The country cannot merely wish away its confirmation biases."

Is there a reason Americans seem to be becoming more susceptible to fake news? How can we curb this and get people to refocus on objectivity & public discourse?

[1] https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/03/the-problem-isnt-fake-news-from-russia-its-us/

Comments

Eallison
Eallison
5 months ago

Well, it is an interesting point that you raised. I have no idea about it, a couple of people on mojowriters asked about something similar to this. And this things are actually to think about.

Suthclif
Suthclif
6 months ago

You need to ask a lot of people about it. You can do it by going ot writemypaperforme review and then work on things that will make things easier. It's always going to happen that way for sure.

rachel
rachel
a year ago

This is an excellent resource for the latest in what's being done to combat the problem of fake news: http://www.niemanlab.org/collection/fake-news/

joe
joe
a year ago

This article dances right by what I think the real issue is - how people consume news has changed significantly in the last 5 years. Today, people often don't go directly to the source (newspaper, radio, tv), but instead choose to consume media in bite sized tidbits shared via other sources or via a newsfeed.

rachel
rachel
a year ago

There’s also a strong element of confirmation bias at work - that is, we believe the fake news stories that we WANT to believe, the ones that support our own subjective constructions of reality. It’s the default mode of human cognition, and it’s a particularly easy trap to fall into when we are not regularly confronted with evidence that refutes our pre-existing narratives. To that end, the way that people consume news today, in fragmented spaces which each tend to prioritize a particular set of facts, values, and judgments, creates a self reinforcing cocoon around our preferred narratives, engendering a false sense of objectivity.

The interesting thing about confirmation bias is that it is extremely susceptible to strong emotions, such that even people in the habit of skepticism and critical thought will be inclined to believe stories that support their fundamental convictions, regardless of how dubious the set of facts may be. These emotional judgments are the basis of deeply felt “truth”, which dominates over all other forms of evidence in the hierarchy of information we perceive, and plays a fundamental role in how we assess credibility. So for example, for a person with a strong negative bias toward Hillary Clinton, a story about her running a child sex ring out of a DC pizza parlor would be something they would WANT to believe, because it affirms their deeply felt sense of reality (i.e., the suspicion that Hillary is powerful, evil, sneaky, etc.), to the extent that they may overlook the sheer implausibility of the scenario. Instead, the “facts” are subsumed into the greater perceived truth of the narrative’s broader themes.

And this, my friends, is how we got Q-Anon.

rachel
rachel
a year ago

Anne Appelbaum’s piece on political tribalism in Europe is a fascinating and detailed study in how this tendency plays out. Link to the discussion thread is here: https://hellopolitik.com/posts/fDmbKfW8xdYRARfhh/polarization-in-poland-a-warning-from-europe-the-atlantic

corrie
corrie
a year ago

Agreed, I guess the follow-up question is whether this trend is reversible. I think it's probably not, so how can people be incentivized to engage with news (and think critically about it) when all they're getting is a headline or soundbite?

rachel
rachel
a year ago

Also, I’ve not done much to address the specific issues of soundbite/headline culture, but I think that the question of how to engage people and hold their voluntary attentions falls into the general basket of ideas raised in my prior comment. How do you get people to cooperate when it’s so easy, and so rewarding, to just...not?

derek
derek
a year ago

I think the textbook answer is to incentivize critical engagement (or maybe make it clear what the stakes are?) but there is way more money coming in from the other side (i.e., advertisers paying for clicks and impressions off of clickbait content)...

rachel
rachel
a year ago

This question is as vital as it is daunting. Vital because the very existence of civil society depends upon our ability to convene around a shared set of facts, norms, and institutions. Daunting because doing so will require people to seek challenge rather than comfort—which, given that spaces for political discourse are increasingly fractured and polarized, and with the underlying infrastructure of these spaces doing nothing to promote a solution, it’s hard to imagine how we might right-set on a broader scale.

Ultimately, I think the solution must be (to paraphrase JFK) a means of incentivizing people to do not what is easy, but what is hard - to willingly engage in cooperative and productive discussion, against all of our basest instincts to hunker down among our own kind and rail against the rival tribes. I also think that the solution would ideally be market-based - that is to say, voluntary, organic, and presenting an appealing alternative to shouting at each other on Twitter and Facebook. To be even more specific, I’m thinking of a social media type platform, potentially with a gaming-oriented participatory component - pretty vague, but the basic contours of the idea are to entice people to come together around something purposeful. Idle hands, etc.

The other solution would be to to regulate it—I’ve heard people float the idea of bringing back the “equal time” rule, which seems like a diabolically bad idea to me, but it’s something I’d be interested in hearing out, as part of a broader discussion on the viability of policy solutions to this problem. I’m fresh out, but...thoughts?

derek
derek
a year ago

Whoops, just reading this. Commented too soon above!

derek
derek
a year ago

It seems to me like people are more concerned about reacting quickly than about thinking through issues. It's easy to point the finger at technology and new media, but there are more pervasive (and non-technical) issues here, such as tribalism and the politics of outrage.