The Power of Refutation

Laura Hazard Owen writes When’s the best time to correct fake news? After someone’s already read it, apparently:

Debunking > prebunking. If you want someone to not believe that false or misleading headline they just read, when’s the best time to correct it? We hear a lot about inoculating people against fake news or “prebunking” it, but new research shows that the best time to fact-check a false headline — and have subjects remember the fact-check a week later — is after the subject has already read the headline.

Participants saw 18 true and 18 false news posts. They received “true” and “false” tags before, during, or after reading each headline and rating its accuracy; in a control condition, there were no tags. One week later, they all rated accuracy again, this time with no tags.

Presenting corrections after and during exposure to false headlines decreased belief one week later. While all three treatments increased belief in true headlines one week later, supplying corrections after exposure was most effective.

Boosterism pushes communicate, communicate, communicate but blogging replies with refute, refute, refute. Critical blogging (properly done) adopts an attrition strategy, wearing away the claims it criticizes, persistently and (through that persistence) decisively.


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3 years ago

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