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What to Do about Fake News: Fake News - How and Why

This guide provides tips on how to use analytical skills to evaluate information and avoid getting snookered by fake news.

What the Science Says - The Psychology of Fake News

When in Doubt, Shout - Scientists at Northwestern University found that when a person is questioning their beliefs, they tend to promote and advocate for those beliefs even more strongly.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect - In a psychological study, Dunning and Kruger determined that uneducated or incompetent people are likely to overestimate their knowledge or ability and be overly confident. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes that "ignorance carries with it the inability to accurately assess one's own ignorance."

Cognitive Dissonance - Cognitive dissonance is when one has inconsistent or contradicting beliefs or values; it also refers to the feeling of uneasiness when one is faced with evidence that contradicts their beliefs. 

Confirmation Bias - One's likelihood to interpret new experiences or information so that it confirms their already held beliefs is known as confirmation bias.

There are Many Kinds of Fake News

Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.  

Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.  

Extreme Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.

Conspiracy Theory: Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.

Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

State News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.

Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.

Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.  

Proceed With Caution: Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification.


How False News Can Spread

Further Learning

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers: ...and Other People Who Care about Facts - An ebook by Mike Caulfield, director of blended and online learning at Washington State University Vancouver.

Tips for Spotting Fake News - From the University of Oregons's School of Journalism and Communication.

Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens - A free online MOOC (massive open online course) for people who want to know more.

Fake news isn’t a recent problem in the US—it almost destroyed Abraham Lincoln - A historical example.

The Long and Brutal History of Fake News - Fake news isn't unique to the United States. More information on fake news from a historical perspective.

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