False beliefs: Byproducts of an adaptive knowledge base?

Book Section

Pizzagate. The Bowling Green Massacre. Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump for president. How should we combat such “fake news” stories, which often go viral? As cognitive scientists, we view this problem through the lens of what we know about the construction, representation, and updating of belief and knowledge more generally. That is, we argue that the same efficient processes that support the learning of veridical information also support the processing of fake news and sometimes produce false beliefs. Anchoring on the larger psychological literature on belief and knowledge highlights possible solutions while casting doubt on other possible interventions. For example, we are not optimistic about interventions that focus learners on assessing the credibility of information sources, given that such information is likely forgotten over time. Overall, we argue that the basic science of belief and knowledge provides a useful foundation for thinking about reactions to and consequences of fake news.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marsh, EJ; Stanley, ML

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Book Title

  • The Psychology of Fake News: Accepting, Sharing, and Correcting Misinformation

Start / End Page

  • 131 - 146

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781000179033

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9780429295379-10

Citation Source

  • Scopus