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The truth or fake news? So do your own research with deception expert Tim Levine – News


The world now has many different streams of information. Levine shares his strategy of deciphering facts from fiction, regardless of the subject.

With so much information available from so many sources, how can you be sure of the truth?

Timothy Levine, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who studies deception, says people should be free to “think what you want to think.” But a good strategy for discovering facts from fiction is to be “a little bit Sherlock Holmes” and triangulate evidence by checking independent news sources on the subject.

“The best you can do is act like a really good, responsible journalist – do your best to verify and triangulate facts,” said Levine, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Communication Studies at UAB.

“Different people have different sources of credibility, so it is better to choose the triangulation method,” Levine said. “It’s not perfect. People make mistakes, people are dishonest. If I tell you one thing but everyone else disagrees, maybe you should suspect me – or at least realize that it’s in the air. “

The world now has many different streams of information. To get truthful information with as little bias as possible, Levine recommends large print media. Find reliable media outlets that produce unique reports and list the sources for their articles and the name of the person who wrote them; Make sure it’s not an opinion article. If they provide inaccurate information, “either they will come in or the others will whistle it,” he said. Viewing a media bias graph can also be helpful in determining which media to trust.

“Try to worry less about source credibility than about consistency in various obvious sources,” Levine said. If there is a disagreement, try to find out what is going on. You have to be open-minded and use critical thinking. “

Also, once we have an opinion, we can have confirmation bias – a tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s beliefs or theories. Affirmation bias leads us to believe that we are right even when we are not. And “almost everyone” is overconfident, Levine said.

“It’s just deeply human to want to be right.”

There were always contradicting stories; But now they can reach a lot more people using the internet and social media, says Levine. Humans as a species are incredibly social and function in larger groups outside of the family than any other species on the planet. We wouldn’t have industry, cities, electricity, planes, internet and zoom without being able to work together in large groups.

“To do this, we have to communicate. And in order to communicate, we have to trust what is said, ”said Levine. “People are confused by this, but many people exist in an ecosystem where their beliefs – which make perfect sense to them – are reinforced,” Levine said.

Levine’s latest book, Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception, discusses the reasons for lies and deception – and why people are so easily deceived. “Duped” tells of a decade-long program of empirical research that culminates in a new theory of deception – the truth-default theory. This theory suggests that the content of incoming communications is usually accepted as true, and most of the time this is good. Through this notion, theory enables people to function socially, but it also makes us more prone to the occasional deception.


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