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The Paranoids Guide to Internet Research

posted Sep 5, 2014, 11:06 AM by Michael Dreyfus-Pai   [ updated Sep 5, 2014, 11:10 AM ]

Info wars

It seems like these days literally ANYTHING is up for debate. The overwhelming amount of information we have access to hasn't made it easier to find the truth. In fact, it's made debate on subjects more divisive than ever. There's even a group called the Flat Earth Society, that argues that the earth is flat, the moon landing was a fake, and the edges of the Earth are still out there, undiscovered. Why is this the case?

An old - but powerful - example: Who Won the Vice Presidential Debate?


A lot of this is based on the problem of...

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon.  It describes how people, when confronted with facts that oppose their existing beliefs, disregard those facts and seek out sources that confirm their existing beliefs.

To fight confirmation bias:
  • Spend as much time searching for information that contradicts our opinions as that which confirms them
  • Look at sources that look at the same issue from different perspectives. Try to understand where those perspectives come from.

Recognizing Bias in Writing

Often bias is can be detected by looking at the words an article uses. Take a look at these words:

Egotistical        Scrawny
Proud               Underweight
Confident         Slender

How do these represent the same idea differently?

Activity

Download the handout linked below. Complete the reading and find an article to evaluate for bias.
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Michael Dreyfus-Pai,
Sep 5, 2014, 11:08 AM
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