The article notes that scientists have begun serious research on the skill and methods of spreading false information and attempting to quantify when and why people spread it, who is susceptible and how people can confront it.
The story cites a recent study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology that analyzed the spread of 126,000 rumors tweeted by 3 million people over 10 years. The study found that false news spreads faster than the truth.
“We have reached epidemic levels of information pollution, and we need to do something about it,” West told the Journal. West and Biology Professor Carl Bergstrom co-created the University of Washington’s popular “Calling Bullshit” class and have shared their curriculum with dozens of colleges and high schools.
While some people spread false information unknowingly, others don’t care whether it’s true, West said. Some people will share information simply to signal their views and values to their group.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal website (subscription required).