Why Do People Believe Fake News?

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Why Do People Believe Fake News? Empty Why Do People Believe Fake News?

Post by Guest on Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:39 pm

On 21 December 1955, a group of people called the Seekers gathered in a Chicago house awaiting the end of the world, believing a UFO was on its way to rescue them from Armageddon. Neither the end of the world or the alien mercy mission occurred. Unbeknownst to the Seekers, one of their members was in fact the renowned psychologist, Leon Festinger, intent on studying what happens when someone’s beliefs are challenged by new and overwhelming contradictory information.

He found that instead of accepting they were wrong in the face of an alternative reality, they actually increased their efforts to recruit members and scheduled another apocalypse for the next year. These were the result of an effect he termed “cognitive dissonance”, dissonance that arises when facts counter your beliefs.

While certainly an extreme example, it is this exact same psychological phenomenon that is being used to explain why people today are so willing to believe fake news. Michael Shermer is author of ‘The Believing Brain’ and Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Skeptic’, based in California. He told HuffPost UK:

Michael Shermer

Underlying [cognitive dissonance] is the fact you’ve invested in a particular position, a political party or a religious belief or an economic ideology, something that really matters to you. These are moral foundations, something that hits to the core of who you are, how you define yourself - ‘I am a Liberal’ or ‘I am a Conservative’

Michael Shermer
And so the counter-evidence that it might be a wrong position to hold, it’s not fear so much as something that threatens your very identity - ‘This is who I am and those facts are telling me that’s not a good thing to be’. That’s really hard to overcome.

Why Do People Believe Fake News? Cfraxvtuvmkx7vtpsog3

Shermer’s theory is backed by hard science. In a study published last year in Nature it was demonstrated that challenging someone’s political beliefs activates the same areas of the brain involved in personal identity and emotional response to threat. These scans below show the brain reacting to political statements (depicted in yellow and red) and non-political statements (shown in green and blue).

The area shown in yellow and red is what neuroscientists call the default mode network (DMN) and is the part of the brain thought to be involved in self-reflection, thinking about your own past and future, and your personal identity. One of the report’s authors was Dr. Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute. In Nature, he wrote:

Dr. Jonas Kaplan
Political beliefs are like religious beliefs in the respect that both are part of who you are and important for the social circle to which you belong. To consider an alternative view, you would have to consider an alternative version of yourself.


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Why Do People Believe Fake News? Empty Re: Why Do People Believe Fake News?

Post by 'Wolfie on Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:07 pm


WHY do people choose to believe "fake news" stories  ???

Because they want to believe ?

Like the X-Files poster.


It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Our life is frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify.
The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation.
Henry David Thoreau

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Post by eddie on Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:22 pm

To be fair though, there are so many diverse stories and takes on stories, that's it can be hard to know what's fake, and what's real.

”Do I contradict myself? Very well; I contradict myself. I am vast, I contain multitudes”
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