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Why we believe fake news

How to handle an infostorm

Infostorms are like actual storms: they are a product of climatic conditions. Different climates can produce different results.

The more we understand the chain of events that led to a particular view, the better we are equipped to appreciate it if we are skeptical or take into account other perspectives.

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Why we believe fake news

Why we believe fake news

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190905-how-our-brains-get-overloaded-by-the-21st-century

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Information storms

We often feel overwhelmed when we are exposed to a large volume of information. We also rely on secondary knowledge that does not come from any external source.

To put it another way: rightly or wrongly, we think what other people think. The digital culture has taken this reliance on social information to a new level, with new sets of hazards, anxieties, manipulation and influence.

How misinformation builds

  • When we encounter unfamiliar information on a social network, we verify it in one of two ways. We either go through the burdensome process of countless claims and counter-claims to understand if it is true, or we rely on others by way of social proof.
  • If we search for online information, instead of coming up with our own way of assessing the quality or the usefulness of every website,  we rely on Google's PageRank algorithm to come up with the best sites. In essence, we rely on other people to source information by use of user traffic, reviews, ratings, clicks and likes.

How to handle an infostorm

Infostorms are like actual storms: they are a product of climatic conditions. Different climates can produce different results.

The more we understand the chain of events that led to a particular view, the better we are equipped to appreciate it if we are skeptical or take into account other perspectives.

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Reliant on reputation

If you are asked why you believe in, for instance, the big changes in climate, you might answer that:

  • You trust the reputation of scientific research and believe that peer-review is a reasonable way of sifting out 'truths'. 
  • You trust newspapers, magazines or TV channels that endorse a political view that supports scientific research to summarise its findings for you. (Here you are twice-removed from the source - you trust other people's trust in science.)
Even in conspiracy theories, people trust secondhand information based on the reputation of the sources.

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