fake news and fundamentalism

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Friendly Atheist looks at those who fall for fake news:

A new working paper by researchers at Yale University finds that the kind of people more likely to believe stories that are literally "fake news" -- who fall for the hoaxes, if you will -- are those who believe in delusions (like telepathic communication), are dogmatic in their thinking, and are just flat-out religious fundamentalists.

It makes a lot of sense. After all, the paper notes, evidence "suggests that religious fundamentalists may engage in less analytic and actively open-minded thinking." I believe that. They already believe in huge amount of nonsensical garbage -- a talking snake, a young Earth, God watches over you, Jesus performed miracles, etc. -- in large part because they live in bubbles where those stories feel convincing despite not measuring up to reality. When pastors tell you those lies with conviction, and a sacred book reiterates the lies, and your parents teach you that doubting the lies could lead you down the path to eternal punishment, it makes a lot of sense that news articles that appear legitimate would just be taken as gospel.

The study "Reduced Analytic and Actively Open-Minded Thinking Help to Explain the Link between Belief in Fake News and Delusionality, Dogmatism, and Religious Fundamentalism" explains that "delusion-prone individuals display an increased belief in fake news, which often features implausible content, and that this increase was partially explained by cognitive style:"

Exploratory analyses showed that dogmatic individuals and religious fundamentalists were also more likely to believe fake news, and that these relationships were fully explained by cognitive style.

Two studies with over 1000 participants suggested that individuals who endorse delusion-like ideas (e.g., thinking that people can communicate telepathically), as well as dogmatic individuals and religious fundamentalists, are more likely to believe fake news. These studies also suggested that two related forms of thinking may protect against belief in fake news: The first, actively open-minded thinking, involves the search for alternative explanations and the use of evidence to revise beliefs. The second, analytic thinking, involves deliberate thought processes that consume memory resources.

Here's the tl;dr version:

In conclusion, the present studies suggest that delusion-prone and dogmatic individuals, as well as religious fundamentalists, are more likely than others to believe fake news in large part because they exhibit reduced analytic and actively open-minded thinking.

[See here for a previous look at analytical thinking and religiosity.]

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 4, 2018 7:02 PM.

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