SIO5: Fake News Epidemic

Today I’m talking with Dr. Joel Breakstone, director of the Stanford History Education Group. He was co-director of a recent study that looked at thousands of students, from middle school through college, and tested their ability to discern fake news from real news. The results are worrying, and may give us some insight into why this is such a problem in America today.

Then I take a few minutes to talk to Bruce Gleason, Director of LogiCal LA about their upcoming conference. 

Find the Executive Summary of the Stanford University research study here

And an article discussing the study here

Learn more about LogiCal LA and get tickets to the upcoming event here

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3 Replies to “SIO5: Fake News Epidemic”

  1. This is REALLY interesting. There really need to be courses—required ones—for training kids from junior high on up how to be savvy consumers of everything, including news.

    We were actually taught those things when I was a kid (in the Before Time). I don’t remember what class it was in conjunction with, but they would teach us to discriminate between subjective claims and verifiable claims. Like a 25″ Zenith TV with “the clearest picture in the industry.” You could take a measuring tape to the store and see if it was really 25″ diagonally (and how much of that was actually picture), but “clearest picture” (at least in those days) was something that you could only judge for yourself relative to other TVs you’d seen. Stuff like that. It was an exercise in critical thinking at a very practical level.

    It’s very important that that sort of training be re-instituted and made available to everyone. You know who could really benefit from that? Seniors. AARP needs to offer on-line or half-day courses in identifying bias and downright fabrication in news sources, advertising, politics and whatever else.

    Good show.

  2. Nice episode.
    I’m thinking that some of the poor results might be because of the trust students place in the experimenters, milgram experiment etc. Could be just deluding myself though since it’s pretty depressing on the face of it.

    1. I’m not sure if it’ll help or hurt with the depression, but recently there’s been a lot of criticism about the claims made by Milgram and Zimbardo, (which is kind of fitting, as far as fake news is the topic of the episode).

      Aside from the flagrant ethical violations, it seems like a lot of the criticism of Milgram’s experiments focus on what he inferred from the testing data not being necessarily supported by it, which iterations of the test he chose to omit, and to what extent his researcher was allowed to go off-script during the experiment. I’ve seen some references to more recent tests which somewhat replicate his results, though, due to more stringent ethics rules, the experiments were far less intense and might not have included “fatal” conditions.

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