Quickie: Pew Report on Americans and Fake News

The upcoming feature-length posts are still in progress; I want to be thorough, so essentially everything will be pushed forward a week. (I will update the schedule post accordingly.)

To ensure that there is actual content on here, and not just a bunch of site-related posts, I am sharing this report from the Pew Research Center, published December 2016:

“Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion” – Pew Research Center, December 2016

Authors Barthel, Mitchell, and Holcomb discuss Americans’ perception of the confusion caused by fake news, self-reported ability to recognize fake news, and who is responsible for dealing with the issue.

Interestingly, 39% and 45% of those surveyed are “very confident” and “somewhat confident”, respectively, in their ability to spot fake news (p. 6 in the full report). I’d like to see some research done that compares self-reported vs actual fake news recognition abilities, especially with respect to articles that confirm one’s own biases. (If there’s already a sort of Dunning-Kruger effect kind of study that’s been done, contact me.)

As an aside: One of the first hyperlinks in the report refers to the whole “pizzagate” thing that went down before the report was published. I was largely away from social media and the news around that time, so imagine my surprise when I learned their Pizzagate was less about bad science (see here: “Pizzagate, or the curious incident of the researcher in response to people pointing out 150 errors in four of his papers”) and more about a Satanic child sex ring going down at a ping-pong pizza place! I had to check my calendar: Were people still doing the whole “satanic panic” thing in the US? I know styles come in cycles, but that is one ’80s look that should’ve stayed in that era. However, since it’s crept its way back, it may be a good topic to cover here at some point.

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