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It is widely believed that the media cannot provide exclusively trustful information. Nowadays people have to decide on their own about what is true and what is false. Fake news and conspiracy theories such as weapons of mass destruction used in the Eastern world or Muslims wanting to kill Westerns are familiar to everyone. However, people who believe in their “gut instinct” tend to consider them truthful, while others who use their critical thinking and evidence are more likely to reject such news and theories. In this case, the latter always looks for the source and checks the information via other publications and the media. The former group of people prefers to listen to the inner voice, claiming that their intuition identifies their views. This paper will provide a compare and contrast analysis of the mentioned groups based on by criteria method and several supportive strategies. Among the key criteria of epistemic beliefs, there will be views regarding politics (truth is political), evidence consideration (need for evidence), and intuition (faith in intuition for facts).
Views Regarding Politics
The recent study by Garrett and Weeks (2017) examined 700 respondents, asking them to provide their attitudes regarding the most widespread fake news. In the course of analysis, it was established that people who are sure that political power controls the world and dictates how to live are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. For example, they pointed out their trust in such news as the development of weapons of mass destruction as well as the probability of their rapid implementation and other falsehoods. On the contrary, the study revealed that those who do not perceive politics as something that regulates the entire world are likely to doubt fake news. They tend to recognize inaccurate information and filter it by checking facts and looking for evidence. At the same time, the opponents are characterized by the higher rationality in terms of believing information presented by the media, especially online sources, which become one of the quickest deliverers of facts to readers.
The political bias is complicated by the fact that many people are not aware of the necessity to verify information received from the media. In their research, Garrett and Weeks (2017) indicate that the “compatibility of beliefs with externally validated data” identifies either people will trust fake news or not (p. 3). In particular, people who consider that evidence is critical in analyzing news are less likely to fall in conspiracies ideation. For example, it is stated that they think that vaccines are not related to autism with a score of one (most accurate) compared to their opponents who claim that vaccines cause autism along with other psychological disorders with a score of five (most inaccurate). In other words, people who do not rely on evidence are more prone to perceive conspiracy theories and fake news as truth. They are likely to experience misperception regarding such issues as, let us say, the assassination of John Kennedy by John Harvey Oswald and the reasons for global warming, which are caused not by humans.
Trust of an individual in his or her “gut instinct” that refers to intuition is another factor that may be used to anticipate his or her attitude towards fake news. Reviewing the mentioned research study, Dyer (2017) mentions that people who fully trust their gut are more likely to believe in fake news in comparison to those who build their views on the evidence. This can be said of such issues as the use of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the idea that most Muslims pursue the goal of destroying the Western world. However, as for the associations between vaccines and autism, both groups identified their mistrust of this information. Thus, it is safe to assume that individuals “putting more faith in their ability to use intuition to assess factual claims than in their conscious reasoning skills” are more likely to have conspiracist ideation rather than their opponents (Garrett & Weeks, 2017, p. 12). Since the latter combine intuition and evidence reliance, they are less prone to misperception.
To conclude, it seems essential to emphasize that a range of factors determine whether people are likely to trust fake news and conspiracy theories or reject them. In general, people who trust fake news and those who are not prone to conspiracist ideation are distinguished by three factors, including views regarding politics, evidence consideration, and intuition. Based on the investigation of respondents’ opinions about the most critical conspiracy theories, the research study shows that the mentioned criteria may be useful to assess, anticipate, and address people’s misperception regarding politics’ role in the modern society. To provide informed decisions, the provided epistemic beliefs are helpful in addressing the challenge of inadequate information perception. Therefore, the study suggests that more reliance on evidence rather than intuition and instinct is likely to prevent and eliminate the appearance of inconsistencies, falsehoods, and misinterpretations, thus contributing to a more transparent and accurate perception of news. Journalists, fat checkers, and scholars may promote this in their articles and other publications.
Dyer, J. (2017). Trust in ‘gut instinct’ linked to belief in fake news. Web.
Garrett, R. K., & Weeks, B. E. (2017). Epistemic beliefs’ role in promoting misperceptions and conspiracist ideation. PloS One, 12(9), 1-17.