william.scherk

"Fake news" needs a definition from time to time, having becoming a part of the loaded language wielded by just about everybody. The everybody people aren't always talking about the same thing as the other people.

For each definition of fake news re-offered here, I will put a certain sum of money in the OL pot. I want this to be the year Michael doesn't have to appeal for donations.

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SCIAM: "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News"

william.scherk

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The article "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News" appeared at the Scientific American website on February 6th. Its subheadline is "Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation." 

The article makes for interesting reading, whether you consider 'fake news' a classifier for broad swaths of the information landscape, or whether you consider 'fake news' to be particular items that are inaccurate, infused with partisan bias, subject to grotesque editorial demands, or otherwise not adequate to your needs.

Excerpts:

Quote

Ghent University researchers Jonas De keersmaecker and Arne Roets first had over 400 subjects take a personality test. They then randomly assigned each subject to one of two conditions. In the experimental condition, the subjects read a biographical description of a young woman named Nathalie. 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.

... you can guess what happened next.

Quote

Meanwhile, other research is shedding light on the mechanisms underlying the effects of misinformation. Repeating a false claim increases its believability, giving it an air of what Stephen Colbert famously called “truthiness.” Known as the illusion of truth effect, this phenomenon was first demonstrated in the laboratory by Hasher and her colleagues. On each of three days, subjects listened to plausible-sounding statements and rated each on whether they thought it was true. Half of the statements were in fact true, such as Australia is approximately equal in area to the continental United States, whereas the other half were false, such as Zachary Taylor was the first president to die in office (it was William Henry Harrison). Some of the statements were repeated across days, whereas others were presented only once. The results showed that the average truth rating increased from day to day for the repeated statements, but remained constant for the non-repeated statements, indicating that subjects mistook familiarity for verity.

If you seek verity, verily you must verify ...

Quote

These studies add to scientific understanding of the fake news problem, which is providing a foundation for an evidenced-based approach to addressing the problem. A recommendation that follows from research on the illusion of truth effect is to serve as your own fact checker. If you are convinced that some claim is true, ask yourself why. Is it because you have credible evidence that the claim is true, or is it just because you’ve encountered the claim over and over? Also ask yourself if you know of any evidence that refutes the claim. (You just might be surprised to find that you do.) This type of recommendation could be promoted through public service announcements, which have been shown to be effective for things like getting people to litter less and recycle more. For its part, research on individual differences in susceptibility to fake news, such as the study by De keersmaecker and Roets, can help to identify people who are particularly important to reach through this type of informational campaign.

To that end, that of critical appraisal, one dear to the heart of all Objectivish people, the magazine has another useful (or familiar) set of verification rules of thumb:

Six Tips for Identifying Fake News 

-- this is presented at the site as an MP3 sound file, which I link to here:

Note on audio files: the code to insert an audio file is dead easy if you have a little knowledge of HTML. Any modern browser will return a little player like that above -- given the code format below. All you need to do is make sure the file to be played is MP3, the web standard.

<audio controls src="http://www.somesite.com/soundfile.mp3">

-- to insert similar audio file code on OL in your edit box, click on the "Source" button up under "Content" at the top of the edit box. This reveals the underlying HTML.  



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William,

Did I understand this quote correctly? "For its part, research on individual differences in susceptibility to fake news, such as the study by De keersmaecker and Roets, can help to identify people who are particularly important to reach through this type of informational campaign."

In other words, it's important to find out how to control people through fake news and make sure they are consuming--and being influenced by--the type of informational campaign fake news the folks on top want them to believe.

That's how I read it.

:)

Michael

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"Did I understand this quote correctly?"

That goes without saying.


I sent an email to the lead author to get a copy of the underlying journal article. I cannot figure out a way to get a ResearchGate account, being an "independent researcher" like you.

ResearchGate will indeed share a PDF copy of the study, but first it wants to know affiliation. Institutional affiliation. Grrrr. I don't got one.  What I learned in college as an adult student was a polite email to a researcher almost always gains you a copy or pre-print from the lead author. Back in my all-in Memory Wars studies, one of my special pleasures was to get at the very first cited piece, the ones that everyone and their dog referred to in subsequent literature. One of my pleasure trips was to a tiny university outside San Francisco that had the only extant copy on the whole west coast.  

I may have to call up Robert Campbell and ask him to ask the author for a copy. I miss him around here.


"Fake news" needs a definition from time to time, having becoming a part of the loaded language wielded by just about everybody. The everybody people aren't always talking about the same thing as the other people.

For each definition of fake news re-offered here, I will put a certain sum of money in the OL pot. I want this to be the year Michael doesn't have to appeal for donations.

Donate now and save the work of definition!

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Edited by william.scherk

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Repeating a false claim increases its believability, giving it an air of what Stephen Colbert famously called “truthiness.”

Indeed!

Off the top of my head, just a few bits of persistent fake news reported by mainstream media journalists, repeated by them to this day:

Trump mocked the disability of a disabled reporter.

Trump called all Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.

Trump called certain countries "shitholes" in a private meeting, despite the fact that he and others in the room said that he didn't. No "allegedly" about it! He fucken said it!

When calling countries "shitholes," Trump wasn't referring to their corrupt, abusive governments, but to the people, whom he sees as inferior because of their races.

Trump is opposed to immigration, not just illegal immigration, because he is a racist.

Trump hates all Muslims, and for no reason other than racism (even though Islam is not a race). When he points to the radicalized deeds perpetrated by people whose actions were motivated by a specific belief system, and discusses the need to address that source of influence, he is only doing so as an excuse to disguise his racism.

After Charlottesville, Trump called white supremacist Nazis "good people."

When stating that individuals on both sides initiated violence in Charlottesville, Trump was equating white supremacist Nazis with people who bravely oppose such evil! In saying that Antifa's violent, controlling ideology is just as disgusting as that of the white suoremacists, he was saying that he loves fascism!

Trump said that the people who were run over by a car in Charlottesville deserved it because their side had committed violence. Well that's what he meant!

When Trump said that Megyn Kelly was bleeding out of her eyes, ears or "whatever," the "whatever" obviously meant her vagina! Because Trump hates women! It's the only thing that he could have meant!

Kellyanne Conway presented "alternative facts" when challenged to defend a White House position on inauguration numbers. It's clear that she meant something along the lines of "other facts" or "additional facts" or "the facts that you've selectively decided to exclude." But it's much more fun to win the fake news narrative by repeating the lie often enough so that people believe that she meant that falsehoods are "alternative facts."

 

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13 hours ago, william.scherk said:

ResearchGate will indeed share a PDF copy of the study, but first it wants to know affiliation. Institutional affiliation. Grrrr. I don't got one.  What I learned in college as an adult student was a polite email to a researcher almost always gains you a copy or pre-print from the lead author.

William,

Times change for gatekeepers. The Internet did a real whammy on them in the science community.

Look up "Sci-Hub." It's URL periodically changes (a working one right now is this), so keep that name handy. When a link to Sci-Hub stops working, all you have to do is search for it on most any search engine and an alternative link pops up.

You need a URL, PMID, DOI or a search string., A simple keyword search doesn't work (Google Scholar is your friend for that :) ), but you should be able to obtain all the science you want there--without asking permission and without paying a cent.

Of course, all those government-funded authors and, by extension, government-funded publications, get indignant about this because they want their property rights respected. Free market rules and all... It's their government, goddamit, not yours that pays them...

:)

Anyway, trying to be helpful. There are some advantages from hanging out on the dark side...

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Look up "Sci-Hub." It's URL periodically changes (a working one right now is this), so keep that name handy. When a link to Sci-Hub stops working, all you have to do is search for it on most any search engine and an alternative link pops up.

You need a URL, PMID, DOI or a search string., A simple keyword search doesn't work (Google Scholar is your friend for that :) ), but you should be able to obtain all the science you want there--without asking permission and without paying a cent.

Pirates!

Thanks for the information on Sci-Hub (it worked); the author kindly pointed me to the full-text PDF via the journal's web-site (a Science-Direct search led also to an HTML version).  Your mention of Google Scholar reminded me that I should have checked there first.  Their link also links up to an alternative site with a full-text. Open access!

Sci-Hub's value looks to be its attempt to get at the free stuff underneath the sometimes predatory publisher's gate. I followed the the ResearchGate link instead of digging a bit deeper in the first instance. I now hate ResearchGate with a burning passion ...

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49 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Pirates!

William,

Well... I fondly think of this as a Robert Stadler Buster.

In fact, since you brought it up, a story emerges from the depths of my fertile quintessence and is a perfect fit to Sci-Hub returning taxpayer wealth from looters to taxpayers:

Ragnar Danneskjöld visits Dr. Robert Stadler.

:) 

For creative writers in O-Land, that's a hell of a log line.

For those who don't know what a logline is, it's a Hollywood elevator pitch for a story idea. One logline form (among many) is to take two famous things and combine them. They say things like: "think Godzilla meets Forrest Gump," or "Wonder Woman meets The Wizard of Oz." 

:)

Michael

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