SSI1 151

Just Asking Questions: The Power, Psychology, and Politics of Fake News and Conspiracy Theories

This course allows students to understand, and assess the rise of misinformation, including the prevalence of conspiracy theories and fake news. Misinformation has always been in political discourse but the internet era has seen a rise in public consumption of conspiracy theories and fake news, as well as numerous sites dedicated to fact-checking, such as Politifact. Donald Trump is a president of the United States who seemingly has difficulty distinguishing between truth and lies and who apparently disseminates his own misinformation. News and social media have been pushing back, attempting to live fact-check speeches and flag sources as "fake news", but the term has been co-opted by those who identify all news with which they disagree as fake. Extensive research across multiple academic disciplines has demonstrated that the human brain is not just susceptible to misinformation but is also resistant to being set straight. In the current political, and cultural climate, it is essential that citizens of a democratic community be able to identify the psychological, social, and political factors that lead to misinformation, critically evaluate news sources to identify bias and reliability, explain why political elites intentionally disseminate misinformation, and understand ways of convincingly advancing their own arguments. Affiliate department: Politics and Government.