Assessing 'fake news' - Deepstash

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Say goodbye to the information age: it's all about reputation now - Gloria Origgi | Aeon Ideas

Assessing 'fake news'

To question and assess the reputation of an information source, ask:
  • Where does it come from?
  • Does the source have a good reputation?
  • Who are the authorities who believe it?
  • What are my reasons for deferring to these authorities?

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Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismana...

We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

  • Successful conspiracy theories always tend to invent a great villain, have a backdrop or a backstory, and a morality lesson that can be easily understood by most.
  • Great stories are by nature more magnetic and appealing than the truth.
  • Human beings think and understand in stories. For thousands of years, fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and mysteries have helped our brains make sense of the world.
Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.

Living in the age o doubt
Living in the age o doubt

We live in a time when all scientific knowledge (the safety of fluoride, vaccines, climate change, moon landing, etc.) faces coordinated and vehement resistance.

The acces...

We now face risks we can’t easily analyze

Our existence is invaded by science and technology as never before. For many of us, this brings comfort and rewards, but this existence is also more complicated and sometimes agitated.

Our lives are full of real and imaginary risks, and distinguishing between them isn’t easy. We have to be able to decide what to believe and how to act on that.

Marcia McNutt  - Geophysicist
Marcia McNutt - Geophysicist

“Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.”

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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...

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.