Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing

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Evidence shows that vaccines do not cause autism, that global warming is actually occurring, and that President Obama was indeed born in the United States. Why then do people still — often passionately — believe the opposite to be true? In this report, Lewandowsky (University of Western Australia) and colleagues review recent psychological science detailing common sources of misinformation, processes for evaluating the validity of new information, and strategies for combating the effects of misinformation.

Cognitively, it is much easier for people to accept a given piece of information than to evaluate its truthfulness. This stacks the deck in favor of accepting misinformation rather than properly rejecting it. When people do take the time to thoughtfully evaluate the truth of information, they tend to focus on only a few of its characteristics: Is the new information consistent with other things they believe to be true? Does it “make sense”? Does the information come from a credible source? People also look to others to help them validate information, which means the more widespread a piece of misinformation, the harder it becomes to debunk it.

Researchers have found that misinformation is “sticky” and is often resistant to correction. Retractions are often ineffective and can sometimes backfire, strengthening incorrect beliefs. Although correcting misinformation can be difficult, the authors provide several tips for people trying to set the record straight.

The authors suggest replacing misinformation by presenting simple and brief messages that focus on the new, correct information rather than on the incorrect information. When correcting misinformation, provide an alternative — but accurate — narrative of events to fill in the gap left when information once thought true is found to be false. Individuals’ pre-existing attitudes and worldviews can influence how they respond to certain types of information, so those trying to counteract misinformation should consider the specific views and values of their target audience.

Misinformation is prevalent in our society and can be hard to discredit. By better understanding the sources and causes of misinformation, we can not only learn to avoid its introduction but also learn to successfully correct it.

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Editorial: Knowing Our Options for Setting the Record Straight, When Doing So Is Particularly Important

By Edward Maibach

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The vaccines / autism debate is actually far more complex than the simple construct, Vaccines = Autism.

Trying to override that misinformation has been an interesting exercise that may be doomed to failure if it continues to be published without the requisite depth of knowledge surrounding physiology , neurology , genetics and the human micobiome.

There are varying theories concerning the interactions of vaccines, human physiology and thus neurology.

For instance one of the simplist examples are children with SCN1A gene mutation, vaccines may trigger a series of events that proceed to a final endpoint in ASD diagnosis.

The research is presented here … https://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2012/webprogram/Paper10671.html

The complexity begins with recent research indicating that it is not seizure activity currently believed to be co-morbid in 30% of ASD patients. But … well let’s hear from the researchers themselves…

“Remarkably, treatment with low-dose clonazepam, a positive allosteric modulator of GABA(A) receptors, completely rescued the abnormal social behaviours and deficits in fear memory in the mouse model of Dravet’s syndrome, demonstrating that they are caused by impaired GABAergic neurotransmission and not by neuronal damage from recurrent seizures. These results demonstrate a critical role for Na(V)1.1 channels in neuropsychiatric functions and provide a potential therapeutic strategy for cognitive deficit and autism-spectrum behaviours in Dravet’s syndrome.”

Anyway food for thought and fits nicely with your article – What Is Logical Isn’t Always True.

The complexity of the differing human experience should never be underestimated for it’s surprise value. There are other interactions currently under active research focusing on mast cells , the human microbiome , aspects of immune dysfunction , inflammation , viruses and bacteria particularly prenatal and and neonatal.

I found this report fascinating. Understandably, the primary focus is on psychological factors that filter information. However, it’s also useful to note that there are external, technological factors that filter information in ways that can perpetuate misinformation. For instance, a Google search on Death Panels yielded more than 35 MILLION results. The sheer volume of information prohibits anyone from thoughtfully weighing it all. Secondarily, search engines filter information to match a user’s “likes.” This surrounds people in comfortable “bubbles” of information that reinforce their existing world views and prejudices.

I am personally puzzled by our current Great Society; as Moses reportedly was given Ten Commandments and #9 states clearly “Thou Shall NOT bear false witness” or testamony. A lie is a big thing!

This is one of the great problems of our age. I agree with Robert below that it is hard to find our way around and among the vastness of info. I have written a blog post (with the link to the study above) in hopes to show some paths to “truth”:


Alas, what is truth? I found this article recently which is a pretty enlightening, albeit somewhat controversial:


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