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Why Fake News Works

Discussion in 'General Politics' started by The Barbarian, May 23, 2020 at 5:05 PM.

  1. The Barbarian

    The Barbarian Crabby Old White Guy

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    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.
    ...
    The bio explained that Nathalie, a nurse at a local hospital, “was arrested for stealing drugs from the hospital; she has been stealing drugs for 2 years and selling them on the street in order to buy designer clothes.” The subjects then rated Nathalie on traits such as trustworthiness and sincerity, after which they took a test of cognitive ability. Finally, the subjects saw a message on their computer screen explicitly stating that the information about Nathalie stealing drugs and getting arrested was not true, and then rated her again on the same traits. The control condition was identical, except that subjects were not given the paragraph with the false information and rated Nathalie only once.

    The subjects in the experimental condition initially rated Nathalie much more negatively than did the subjects in the control condition. This was not surprising, considering that they had just learned she was a thief and a drug dealer. The interesting question was whether cognitive ability would predict attitude adjustment—that is, the degree to which the subjects in the experimental condition would rate Nathalie more favorably after being told that this information was false. It did: subjects high in cognitive ability adjusted their ratings more than did those lower in cognitive ability. The subjects with lower cognitive ability had more trouble shaking their negative first impression of Nathalie. This was true even after the researchers statistically controlled for the subjects’ level of open-mindedness (their willingness to change their mind when wrong) and right-wing authoritarianism (their intolerance toward others), as assessed by the personality test. Thus, even if a person was open-minded and tolerant, a low level of cognitive ability put them at risk for being unjustifiably harsh in their second evaluation of Nathalie.

    Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News

    Which probably also explains this:

    Nov. 22, 2016, at 2:53 PM

    Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump
    Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump
     
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  2. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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  3. Hank77

    Hank77 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think education helps one to increase their cognitive abilities.
     
  4. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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    Maybe it maximizes them, but they have a physiological limit, individually. That is the meaning of IQ which isn't changed by education (or lack thereof).
     
  5. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you for sharing this. Cognitive dissonance is a huge factor in one's inability to discern the truth. This is more of an emotional element. We all know that animals are slaughtered so we can eat them, but few would be willing to do the slaughtering then eat them. Education, as in having grown up on a farm or hunting would alter the ability to do the slaughtering. But those who have only eaten meat from the store would have great difficulty. So, while not part of the OP directly, I think emotions and education are factors of consideration.
     
  6. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla ❤️ Supporter

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    I have loosely wondered the same about conspiracy theories and the people most attracted them. I had similar thoughts as a child in the checkout line. I’d glimpse The Enquirer or read the headlines from a similar magazine and wonder who was buying it. I knew it was false but I couldn’t grasp its appeal.

    ~Bella
     
  7. nonaeroterraqueous

    nonaeroterraqueous Nonexistent Member

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    What I find surprising, just from personal observation, is the tendency of people with obviously high cognitive ability to ignore their own personal observations in preference to information, rumors or opinions from others.
     
  8. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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    Most of the salient information is just as inaccessible as the celebrities, themselves, are. (I am usually quick to pick up on inconsistencies in competing stories, however.)
     
  9. The Barbarian

    The Barbarian Crabby Old White Guy

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    Actually, IQ is very flexible in almost all people; experience has a huge effect on intelligence.

    Ind Psychiatry J. 2016 Jul-Dec; 25(2): 189–194.

    Effect of environmental factors on intelligence quotient of children
    Archita Makharia, Abhishek Nagarajan, Aakanksha Mishra, Sandeep Peddisetty, Deepak Chahal, and Yashpal Singh
    Results:
    In this study, it was observed that the environmental factors such as place of residence, physical activity, family income, parental education, and occupation of the father had an impact on the IQ of the children. Children living in cities (P = 0.001), children having physical activity more than 5 h/weeks (P = 0.001), children with parents having a postgraduate or graduate level of education (P = 0.001), children whose father having a professional job (P = 0.001), and those with a higher family income (P = 0.001) were more likely to have high IQ.

    Conclusions:
    In the present study, we found that various environmental factors such as place of residence, physical exercise, family income, parents' occupation and education influence the IQ of a child to a great extent. Hence, a child must be provided with an optimal environment to be able to develop to his/her full genetic potential.

    Interestingly, the three factors identified by these researchers are two of the same top three for American children.
     
  10. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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    While still children, yes, but adults are pretty stable.
     
  11. The Barbarian

    The Barbarian Crabby Old White Guy

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