Yes, it is time to inoculate the public to fake news and pseudoscience! This is important research, and we need to be supporting it. As a nation that is supposed to be the more educated and scientifically relevant in the world, we have got to get the general public aware of what is real news and what is fake news, and of what is objective and substantiated science and what is religion pretending to be science.
As a country, we would not have a stolen election and an illegitimately elected 45th president right now – whose administration is filled with climate deniers and believers in pseudoscience over real science, if we had acted as a People a lot sooner to combat “fake news” and religious myth masquerading in the clothing and words of objective scientific research. It’s called inoculating the public against deliberately spread misinformation for the political and financial gain of a select few within society.
#ResistTrump #UnitedWeStand #FakeNews #ClimateDenial
“In medicine we can try to build resistance to infections by injecting people with a weakened strain of the virus or small dose of the virus that will trigger antibodies in people’s immune system to confer resistance. The attitudinal theory of inoculation is exactly the same — in the sense that what we try to do is pre-expose people to a bit of the misinformation… then debunk that information with specific facts. This process helps arm people with what I call a cognitive repertoire to resist basically future encounters with misinformation. That’s the basic idea… We see that we can incrementally protect people’s beliefs about science, through inoculation.” – Dr Sander van der Linden
Fake news’ power to influence shrinks with a contextual warning, study finds
What surprised the researchers most about the results of the study? Firstly how powerful misinformation can be, says van der Linden, but also — on the positive side — that ‘inoculating’ people against misinformation can be effective even if a person has an entrenched prior viewpoint.
“I didn’t anticipate that the misinformation would be so overwhelming for people,” he says. “I would have anticipated that the misinformation would have some influence — but not that it would cancel out the facts completely. I think that was quite surprising and also quite concerning, in some way, that people are paying so much attention to this idea of balance. And it’s tricky for people because they don’t know what the sources are, and how credible each side of the debate is — so it is difficult.”
“Similarly we weren’t sure if inoculating people, depending on their prior position, is going to be effective because some people might already have certain prior beliefs — and we were surprised by the fact that on average the inoculation worked well, regardless of what your affiliation or your prior beliefs were. This is not to say there aren’t individuals in the study for whom it didn’t work — and similarly vaccines work for most people but they can’t guarantee they work for everyone — so I would say that’s very much the same here too. But we were surprised that it worked across the board — and that is quite promising.”
Asked about the global challenge posted by the propagation of misinformation, van der Linden is also relatively upbeat — pointing out that misinformation is nothing new, even though the popularity of social media platforms has led to an amping up of the fake news volume in recent years.