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Posts Tagged ‘Misinformation’

Are You Smarter Than A Doctor? The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Vaccine Misinformation

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Picture this: it’s a beautiful fall day in elementary school, and one day after you get home from school, your parents tell you to get in the car because you have a doctor’s appointment. You’re not very excited, but you have no choice but to go along with them. When you arrive, you receive some dreadful news from the doctor: it’s time for you to get your seasonal flu shot! You’re terrified, but your parents tell you to close your eyes and that it will be over quickly, and that getting a shot isn’t nearly as bad as getting the flu later on. You hold your breath, and before you know it, you’re out the door with a Pokémon band-aid on your arm and a lollipop in your mouth.

For most Americans, receiving vaccinations against diseases such as the seasonal flu or measles is a common and expected practice. In fact, vaccines are often considered to be one of the greatest medical achievements of the 20thcentury. Although vaccines have been heralded as a medical breakthrough, anti-vaccination sentiments are by no means a new phenomenon. In the past decade or so, this anti-vaccination movement has grown tremendously on the internet. The public’s attitude towards vaccines is shaped by multiple factors, such as scientific, political, and psychological factors, as well as people’s levels of knowledge and exposure to misinformation. Despite overwhelming clinical evidence that vaccinations are safe and effective, there is still a community that stands strong in their beliefs in misconceptions about vaccines. People who hold these beliefs are generally known as “anti-vaxxers“.

Anti-vaxxer’s lack of metacognitive awareness leads often leads them to disregard science in favor of their own opinions.

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The Rise of Opinionated News Sources: How Confirmation Bias is Affecting How We Vote

November 24th, 2020 No comments

As Donald Trump’s four year term is coming to a close, people all over the United States–and the world– were more anxious than ever to see who would win the election. Would Trump be rewarded with a second term, or would former Vice-President Joe Biden get enough votes to make Trump the first one-term President since Clinton beat Bush in 1992? Regardless of the fact that Biden won, one thing is clear: our country seems to be more politically divided than ever before. The rise of biased news sources combined with the power of confirmation bias have contributed to much of our current, incredibly-divided, political climate.

Walter Cronkite, a retired CBS news anchor who was widely trusted by Middle America.

Before cable and internet news, the three television networks in the United States were ABC, CBS, and NBC. Because they had to appeal to very broad and diverse audiences, these networks relayed the news of the day fairly objectively, and it was challenging to decipher whether news anchors, such as Walter Cronkite, were liberal or conservative based on their reporting (Poniewozik). Over the last 30 years, with the rise of cable and internet news, news sources have become increasingly more biased and focused on niche audiences. These networks are supplying the public with opinionated accounts of what’s going on instead of seeking to simply report objective facts (Pearson). Those who follow the news know that many networks and sites like CNN, the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, and MSNBC are left-leaning news sources, and thus share the news from a more liberal point of view. The opposite is true for networks like Fox News, Breitbart and the National Review, which are right leaning and promote more conservative opinions, as expressed through the data found by AllSides–a Media Bias chart that collects information from people across the political spectrum through blind bias surveys, editorial reviews, independent reviews, and third party data.
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Repetition Makes Fact

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

 

Read it & weep, Wakefield!

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir when he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal suggesting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and, ultimately, debunked Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the Lancet, the medical journal in which Wakefield’s study was initially published, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In 2008 and 2009, while vaccination rates were on the decline, the measles came back in full force, plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). As a result of the chaos that ensued following his erroneous declaration, Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license. How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust? Good question. A prime culprit in perpetuating the belief in Wakefield’s false claim was repetition.

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The Barnum effect- Your horoscope just came in: There really is a sucker born every minute!

April 24th, 2018 No comments

In case there was any confusion…

Hello, and welcome to your reading! While you may have come here looking for some interesting cognitive facts or tidbits, what you’re really in for is a personality profile created specifically for YOU. Through our unique system of assessment, here are your results…

-You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage.

Was it accurate? Do you feel as though you can suddenly trust the powerful abilities of this post to predict your innermost emotions and traits? If you answered yes or felt that the reading uniquely matched you, then you’ve fallen victim to the Barnum effect. Named after the infamous showman P.T. Barnum, this effect refers to the tendency for people to give high accuracy ratings to personality descriptions that, although said to be unique, can apply to the general population. Barnum famously said that there is a sucker born every minute, and this tendency may explain why those “suckers” seem so gullible. From fortune cookies to the Long Island Medium to Buzzfeed personality tests, this effect explains why people are so eager to accept general profiles that have no veridical backing as the truth.

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Eager To Please: Confabulation in healthy and amnesic individuals

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

If we can trust anyone, we should first trust ourselves, right? Not always, as cases of confabulation tell us. Imagine not being able to trust the accuracy of your own memory! And worse, not even knowing that you can’t trust it!

Individuals who confabulate genuinely believe that their memory is accurate, when in fact they are reporting or remembering false things. For example, an amnesic patient might tell a doctor an elaborate story about his weekend, which he says he spent in New York City exploring art museums. In reality, the patient was in the hospital the entire weekend, but has no doubt that the story he’s relaying to his doctor is true.

Confabulation is the unconscious process of producing false memories, and it can affect anyone. Those affected by confabulation range from amnesic patients to an average person participating in a psychological study. Obviously, the severity and consequences of the confabulation vary depending on the individual and the situation.
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Bombers and Plagiarism: How Memory Misattributions can get us in Trouble

February 22nd, 2017 No comments

www.dailymail.co.uk

On April 19 of 1995, 168 people lost their lives in one of the most devastating cases of domestic terrorism on US soil. Although many remember Timothy McVeigh as the primary culprit of this attack, in the days shortly after the attack, a nationwide hunt for an accomplice was underway, based on the recollections of an employee at the garage where McVeigh had rented the van used in the attack. A mug shot of the suspect was widely circulated and rumors about accomplices abounded. However, after an extensive investigation, no such suspect was identified and McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who provided material support, were the only two people held responsible for the bombing. To this date, many a conspiracy theory still suggest a second bomber was involved, even if the authorities declared the case to be closed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_City_bombing_conspiracy_theories). Although many cases of mistaken eyewitness testimony occur (Zaragoza & Lane, 1994), with many innocent people sentenced to jail (https://www.innocenceproject.org/) it is less common for a witness to remember a suspect who never existed. So, where did John Doe 2 come from? And how was he implicated in – and later cleared of – any wrong-doing?

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Do You Remember What Happened? The Power of Memory Distortion

May 1st, 2014 2 comments

A memory is an event we remember from our past. We have memories of the first time we rode a bike, the time we graduated high school, our first boyfriend/girlfriend and even memories of where we were on 9/11. We believe that our memories are true recollections of what happened, and that what we remember is accurate. However, this isn’t always true; memories are fallible even under the best conditions. In fact, false memories, implanted memories and misinformation are very likely to distort our memory.

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