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Tue Sep 8, 2020, 05:01 PM

Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News

“Fake news” is Donald Trump’s favorite catchphrase. Since the 2016 election, it has appeared in hundreds of tweets by the President, decrying everything from accusations of sexual assault against him to the Russian collusion investigation to reports that he watches up to eight hours of television a day. Trump may just use “fake news” as a rhetorical device to discredit stories he doesn’t like, but there is evidence that real fake news is a serious problem. As one alarming example, an analysis by the internet media company Buzzfeed revealed that during the final three months of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the 20 most popular false election stories generated around 1.3 million more Facebook engagements—shares, reactions, and comments—than did the 20 most popular legitimate stories. The most popular fake story was “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President.”

Fake news can distort people’s beliefs even after being debunked. For example, repeated over and over, a story such as the one about the Pope endorsing Trump can create a glow around a political candidate that persists long after the story is exposed as fake. A 2017 study published in the journal Intelligence suggests that some people may have an especially difficult time rejecting misinformation. Asked to rate a fictitious person on a range of character traits, people who scored low on a test of cognitive ability continued to be influenced by damaging information about the person even after they were explicitly told the information was false. The study is significant because it identifies what may be a major risk factor for vulnerability to fake news.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/cognitive-ability-and-vulnerability-to-fake-news?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Interesting study on the correlation between cognitive ability and their susceptibility to believing disinformation.

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Reply Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News (Original post)
lanlady Sep 2020 OP
grumpyduck Sep 2020 #1
Karadeniz Sep 2020 #2
AZ8theist Sep 2020 #3
Skittles Sep 2020 #4
czarjak Sep 2020 #5

Response to lanlady (Original post)

Tue Sep 8, 2020, 05:20 PM

1. But there's another side to this.

From ScienceDirect.com:

Cognitive ability may be defined as a "mental capability that … involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience” (Gottfredson, 1997, p. 13).


I think a good chunk of the problem with people accepting disinformation is also based on their perceived ideas about themselves, i.e., refusing to accept being wrong, or accepting blame for anything, or just being lazy enough to refuse to look up the information elsewhere. For many people who get all their news from Fox and/or Breitbart, looking up stories elsewhere is probably the last thing in the world they would ever do. So sure, processing conflicting information from different sources would require the abilities noted in the article, but you'd have to have that conflicting information before you can process it.

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Response to grumpyduck (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 8, 2020, 06:17 PM

2. Yes! Some people gravitate to hateful news because it confirms that their character flaws

Are reality based.

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Response to lanlady (Original post)

Tue Sep 8, 2020, 07:13 PM

3. I don't Fascist Book.

So I don't waste time analyzing fucking Russian disinformation.

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Response to lanlady (Original post)

Tue Sep 8, 2020, 07:16 PM

4. yup

explains why the same kind of people are racist assholes too

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Response to lanlady (Original post)

Tue Sep 8, 2020, 09:19 PM

5. Hearing what you want to hear is a powerful drug.

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