Research by logic & philosophy of science professors Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall
seeks to understand and mitigate misinformation in a media-frenzied age
From a simple “like” on social media to a damning headline of false facts on national news, contributors – unknowing and otherwise - to the rise of fake news can be found everywhere from high school desks to bullpens at some of the most reputable news agencies. In their new book, The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, UCI logic and philosophy of science professors Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall explain how the seeds of fake news are planted, who some of the biggest culprits are, and how we can all work to kill it before it grows legs.
They find that most people, including academics, who have thought about false beliefs and fake news assume that the main problem has to do with psychological biases.
“We accept new information that fits our current beliefs,” says O’Connor. “But we want to push back on this idea. We think that to really understand why false beliefs can persist and even spread, you need to recognize that there is a deep social aspect to what we believe.”
Think about where virtually all beliefs, true and false, come from: someone you know and trust.
“Fake news works because propagandists know how to take advantage of social ties and connections to promote the beliefs they want people to hold,” she says.
Read more about how O’Connor and Weatherall are working to uncover the ways in which misinformation spreads and how, through inquiry and action, we can work together to stop it: socs.ci/misinformationage2019 •