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Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories about Politics and Public Policy
Why do people hold false or unsupported beliefs about politics and public policy and why are so those beliefs so hard to change? This three-credit graduate course will explore the psychological factors that make people vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories and the reasons that corrections so often fail to change their minds. We will also analyze how those tendencies are exploited by political elites and consider possible approaches that journalists, civic reformers, and government officials could employ to combat misperceptions. Students will develop substantive expertise in how to measure, diagnose, and respond to false beliefs about politics and public policy; methodological expertise in reading and analyzing quantitative and experimental research in social science; and analytical writing skills in preparing a final research paper applying one or more theories from the course to help explain the development and spread of a specific misperception or conspiracy theory.
brendan.nyhan  course  misinformation  disinformation  public_opinion  public_policy  conspiracy_theories  political_science  teaching  dmce  networks 
january 2019 by rvenkat
The Loss of Loss Aversion: Will It Loom Larger Than Its Gain? - Gal - 2018 - Journal of Consumer Psychology - Wiley Online Library
Loss aversion, the principle that losses loom larger than gains, is among the most widely accepted ideas in the social sciences. The first part of this article introduces and discusses the construct of loss aversion. The second part of this article reviews evidence in support of loss aversion. The upshot of this review is that current evidence does not support that losses, on balance, tend to be any more impactful than gains. The third part of this article aims to address the question of why acceptance of loss aversion as a general principle remains pervasive and persistent among social scientists, including consumer psychologists, despite evidence to the contrary. This analysis aims to connect the persistence of a belief in loss aversion to more general ideas about belief acceptance and persistence in science. The final part of the article discusses how a more contextualized perspective of the relative impact of losses versus gains can open new areas of inquiry that are squarely in the domain of consumer psychology.

--See additional references here

--First, hot-hand-fallacy fallacy; then, loss of loss aversion; now what? Time to rework my syllabus (Wonder what's the status of conjunction fallacy?)

-- Also, someone should inform this field of *quantum cognition*

of these developments.
judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching  via:gelman 
december 2018 by rvenkat
The Power of the Normal by Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
How do judgments about law and morality shift? Why do we come to see conduct as egregiously wrong, when we had formerly seen it as merely inappropriate or even unobjectionable? Why do shifts occur in the opposite direction? A clue comes from the fact that some of our judgments are unstable, in the sense that they are an artifact of, or endogenous to, what else we see. This is true of sensory perception: Whether an object counts as blue or purple depends on what other objects surround it. It is also true for ethical judgments: Whether conduct counts as unethical depends on what other conduct is on people’s viewscreens. It follows that conduct that was formerly seen as ethical may come to seem unethical, as terrible behavior becomes less common, and also that conduct that was formerly seen as unethical may come to seem ethical, as terrible behavior becomes more common. In these circumstances, law (and enforcement practices) can have an important signaling effect, giving people a sense of what is normal and what is not. There is an important supplemental point, intensifying these effects: Once conduct comes to be seen as part of an unacceptable category – abusiveness, racism, lack of patriotism, microaggression, sexual harassment – real or apparent exemplars that are not so egregious, or perhaps not objectionable at all, might be taken as egregious, because they take on the stigma now associated with the category. Stigmatization by categorization can intensify the process by which formerly unobjectionable behavior becomes regarded as abhorrent. There is a relationship between stigmatization by categorization and “concept creep,” an idea applied in psychology to shifting understandings of such concepts as abuse, bullying, mental illness, and prejudice.

--Sunstein-ian repackaging of really old ideas from psychology of disgust (Rozin) and his & Kuran's work.
cass.sunstein  norms  dynamics  law  moral_psychology  social_movements  cultural_evolution  dmce  social_networks 
november 2018 by rvenkat
They saw a game; a case study
When the Dartmouth football team played Princeton in 1951, much controversy was generated over what actually took place during the game. Basically, there was disagreement between the two schools as to what had happened during the game. A questionnaire designed to get reactions to the game and to learn something of the climate of opinion was administered at each school and the same motion picture of the game was shown to a sample of undergraduate at each school, followed by another questionnnaire. Results indicate that the "game" was actually many different games and that each version of the events that transpired was just as "real" to a particular person as other versions were to other people.
groups  judgment_decision-making  collective_cognition  cultural_cognition  dmce  teaching  via:nyhan 
november 2018 by rvenkat
Kernighan, B.: Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive—especially when they are really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a financial investment. In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, leading computer scientist Brian Kernighan teaches anyone—even diehard math-phobes—how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, Kernighan demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. In chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, he lays bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. And he shows how anyone—using a few basic ideas and lots of shortcuts—can easily learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big—and often bad—data.
book  numeracy  communication  education  via:zeynep  cognitive_science  mathematics  heuristics  dmce  teaching 
october 2018 by rvenkat
The hot hand is back! – Department of Economics
-- Sanjurjo's compilation of blogs, articles and press featuring the Hot-hand-fallacy fallacy

-- I liked this one in particular

maybe because it was LaTeX-ed :)
dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
News Attention in a Mobile Era | Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication | Oxford Academic
Mobile access to the Internet is changing the way people consume information, yet we know little about the effects of this shift on news consumption. Consuming news is key to democratic citizenship, but is attention to news the same in a mobile environment? We argue that attention to news on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones is not the same as attention to news for those on computers. Our research uses eye tracking in two lab experiments to capture the effects of mobile device use on news attention. We also conduct a large-scale study of web traffic data to provide further evidence that news attention is significantly different across computers and mobile devices.
media_studies  dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
SocArXiv Papers | Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media
There is mounting concern that social media sites contribute to political polarization by creating ``echo chambers" that insulate people from opposing views about current events. We surveyed a large sample of Democrats and Republicans who visit Twitter at least three times each week about a range of social policy issues. One week later, we randomly assigned respondents to a treatment condition in which they were offered financial incentives to follow a Twitter bot for one month that exposed them to messages produced by elected officials, organizations, and other opinion leaders with opposing political ideologies. Respondents were re-surveyed at the end of the month to measure the effect of this treatment, and at regular intervals throughout the study period to monitor treatment compliance. We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative post-treatment, and Democrats who followed a conservative Twitter bot became slightly more liberal post-treatment. These findings have important implications for the interdisciplinary literature on political polarization as well as the emerging field of computational social science.
political_psychology  cultural_cognition  bias  public_opinion  opinion_dynamics  dmce  teaching  via:nyhan 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Spectrum of Trust in Data || Data & Society
-- Interesting, people(here parents) don't trust institutions but rely of peer networks to search for knowledge and information. It is not clear whether the people have an implicit awareness of a peer reputation score through which they are able to delineate the reliable from the unreliable. I notice a similar reliance on Stack Exchange, podcasts and blogposts among my peers.
distrust_of_elites  institutions  social_epistemology  education  agnotology  media_studies  inequality  via:boyd  dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
The science of fake news | Science
The rise of fake news highlights the erosion of long-standing institutional bulwarks against misinformation in the internet age. Concern over the problem is global. However, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and society to manipulations by malicious actors. A new system of safeguards is needed. Below, we discuss extant social and computer science research regarding belief in fake news and the mechanisms by which it spreads. Fake news has a long history, but we focus on unanswered scientific questions raised by the proliferation of its most recent, politically oriented incarnation. Beyond selected references in the text, suggested further reading can be found in the supplementary materials.
review  report  misinformation  disinformation  contagion  journalism  news_media  networks  dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
HIV Breakthroughs and Risky Sexual Behavior* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
Recent HIV treatment breakthroughs have lowered HIV mortality in the United States, but have also coincided with increased HIV incidence. We argue that these trends are causally linked, because new treatments have improved health and survival for the HIV +, increased their sexual activity, and thus facilitated HIV's spread. Using variation in state-level Medicaid eligibility rules as an instrument for HIV treatment, we find that treating HIV + individuals more than doubles their number of sex partners. A change of this magnitude would increase infection risk by at least 44 percent for the HIV-negative and likely have lowered their expected welfare.
health  public_policy  causal_inference  dmce  teaching  for_friends 
march 2018 by rvenkat
The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime by Jennifer L. Doleac, Anita Mukherjee :: SSRN
The United States is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, many states have increased access to Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered during an overdose. However, Naloxone access may unintentionally increase opioid abuse through two channels: (1) saving the lives of active drug users, who survive to continue abusing opioids, and (2) reducing the risk of death per use, thereby making riskier opioid use more appealing. By increasing the number of opioid abusers who need to fund their drug purchases, Naloxone access laws may also increase theft. We exploit the staggered timing of Naloxone access laws to estimate the total effects of these laws. We find that broadening Naloxone access led to more opioid-related emergency room visits and more opioid-related theft, with no reduction in opioid-related mortality. These effects are driven by urban areas and vary by region. We find the most detrimental effects in the Midwest, including a 14% increase in opioid-related mortality in that region. We also find suggestive evidence that broadening Naloxone access increased the use of fentanyl, a particularly potent opioid. While Naloxone has great potential as a harm-reduction strategy, our analysis is consistent with the hypothesis that broadening access to Naloxone encourages riskier behaviors with respect to opioid abuse.

--short question based on abstract alone
health  public_policy  causal_inference  dmce  teaching  for_friends 
march 2018 by rvenkat

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