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Psychological inoculation against misinformation and polarization of discussions

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Bad News Online Game screen captureAn intriguing bit of research and an online game. Developing an approach to expose people in advance to methods of misinformation before they encounter it. How might this apply generally, not just to "fringe" elements that may be labelled as "fake news", but also to mainstream news or even published articles that may use the same techniques? For example, in the documentary "Waiting To Die - Canada's Health Care Crisis" mention is made of the polarization of public discussions on the introduction of hybrid public and private health care in Canada? This is an example of the "false dichotomy argument" where it is framed as either Canada's universal health care or the US style private care, while totally ignoring that 28 other developed nations have hybrid systems. What can we learn from the research?

The following is an article introducing the research, "This Psychologist Wants To Vaccinate You Against Fake News. Controlled exposure to misinformation can help protect people from falling for it in the future, according to new research"

"... Van der Linden wanted to build on McGuire's theories and test the idea of psychological inoculation in the real world.

... The approach hinges on the idea that by the time we've been exposed to misinformation, it's too late for debunking and fact-checking to have any meaningful effect, so you have to prepare people in advance, what van der Linden calls "prebunking". An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

... Van der Linden worked with game developers to create an online choose-your-own-adventure game called Bad News, where players can try their hand at writing and spreading misinformation. Much like a broadly protective vaccine, if you show people the tactics used to spread fake news, it fortifies their inbuilt bullshit detectors.

... A collaboration with Google has resulted in a campaign on YouTube in which the platform plays clips in the ad section before the video starts, warning viewers about misinformation tropes like scapegoating and false dichotomies and drawing examples from Family Guy and Star Wars. A study with 20,000 participants found that people who viewed the ads were better able to spot manipulation tactics; the feature is now being rolled out to hundreds of millions of people in Europe.

It would be interesting to collect a list of the various techniques that may be used.

Web Links:

An Introduction to the research: This Psychologist Wants To Vaccinate You Against Fake News,

A publication of the research: Psychological inoculation improves resilience against misinformation on social media,

This game makes players better at spotting disinformation after just 15 minutes, study finds,

Bad News - Play the fake news game!

A quick look at the game Bad News may leave you wondering: does it help you learn to avoid being duped by the techniques or learn how to gain more followers? It may require exploring of the "About" page and a better understanding of the game.

Documentary: Waiting To Die - Canada's Health Care Crisis,


Cease fire banner, you don't speak for the people.