Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite bad, even fatal, consequences for the people who hold them?In The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread (Yale University Press, 2018), Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false beliefs. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it (apparently) irrelevant to many people whether they believe true things or not?The Misinformation Age, written for a political era riven by “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, shows convincingly that what you believe depends on who you know. If social forces explain the persistence of false belief, we must understand how those forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively.Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, Middle East television commentator, and host of the Van Leer Series on Ideas with Renee Garfinkel. Contact: R.Garfinkel@yahoo.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sometimes when we believe something, we resist data that can change our minds. This week, we look at how we rely on the people we trust to shape what we believe, and why emotions can be more powerful than facts. This episode features new reporting and favorite conversations with neuroscientist Tali Sharot and philosopher of science Cailin O'Connor.
On The Gist, the 2020 candidates’ proposals shouldn’t be compared to some progressive ideal, but to some of the stuff we spend taxpayer dollars on now. In the interview, the pace of technological change means we might only be catching onto malicious disinformation techniques after it’s too late to counter them. Still, scientific inquiry is useful in telling us how manipulation works. In The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, authors Cailin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall argue that social dynamics often trump intellectual ones in determining what we fall for, including bogus information peddled by anti-vaxxers. “You, in the right social context, would hold a lot of false beliefs too,” says O’Connor. In the Spiel, putting the Anita Hill hearings in context. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Episode 54, Nick chats with Cailin O’Connor, Associate Professor in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine, about transitioning from studying Film and Environmental Studies at Harvard and a career in the arts to studying philosophy of science, the relevance of game theory to biology, the sciences, and to resolving old philosophical problems, and her new book, “The Misinformation Age” and how social factors, not individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the persistence of false belief.
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