As a sort of inoculation? From Natasha Lomas at Tech Crunch:
Research conducted by social psychologists at Cambridge University in the UK, and Yale and George Mason in the US, offers a potential strategy for mitigating the spread of misinformation online — involving the use of pro-active warnings designed to contextualize and pre-expose web users to related but fake information in order to debunk factual distortion in advance.
The researchers found that combining facts about climate change with a small dose of misinformation — in the form of a warning about potential distortion — helped study participants resist the influence of the false information. More. [link now fixed]
Sounds like the usual motivated rubbish, actually. (That is: Give us JOBS trying to control what people hear!)
Actually, once human beings understand the context of information, we pick up the reliability cues pretty well. But information must become part of the culture first, which is a key reason for letting it find its level without interference.
At my local supermarket, for example, newspapers are positioned at the entrance to the checkout area but tabloids are shelved with the countertop gum and candy. Medical journals featuring articles about weight loss are offered in different venues from the saga of the woman who lost 100 lbs in one year on the miracle prune diet…
It gets worse. In a workplace, opinion rages about media articles on downsizing. But then someone reports that, while she was tidying the storage cupboard in the boardroom the other night, she overheard a conversation among bosses about strategies for cutting staff by 25% … who to believe, what to believe…?
Now, there is nothing new about any of this in principle except for Tech Crunch’s naive assumption that the current consensus on a subject is true news and non-consensus findings or predictions are fake news. Were that true, science would have ended in the Old Stone Age. But in today’s tenure game of musical chairs, lots of boffins might want it to end science advances now, making themselves the all-time geniuses at the summit.
See also: Part I: What is fake news? Do we believe it?
Does fake news make a difference in politics?
Part III: What can we do about fake news that would not diminish real news? diminish real news? Critics of ‘fake news’ should go to China — only the government has the right to post fake news.
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