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NEWSHOUR: The very real consequences of fake news stories and...

NEWSHOUR: The very real consequences of fake news stories and why your brain can’t ignore them

Before Pizzagate, came Ebola

Fake news comes in many flavors, like satire or intentional hoaxes, but computer scientist Filippo Menczer said sensational news and social media campaigns filled with mistruths — like the PizzaGate story — started to surge on the internet around 2010.

Six years ago, few fake news websites featured ads for their content, Menczer said. Their main goal was political gain. By his estimation, the cottage industry for phony stories appeared to take off during the 2014 Ebola crisis. The websites for places like National Report, which self identifies as political satire, began to resemble legitimate news sources. False stories on National Report like “Texas Town Quarantined After Family Of Five Test Positive For The Ebola Virus” feature elements like author biographies and video shorts embedded in the page to give the feel of authenticity, Menczer said. 

When the dust settled, America notched four imported cases and one death during the entire course of the epidemic, while in contrast Africa experienced around 30,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.

Why does your brain love fake news?

Satire is arguably the most prevalent variety of fake news and arguably the best studied. The mental processing of satire is unique compared to other types of information, says communications psychologist Dannagal Young, because it requires audience participation.

“So compared to what we see in traditional communication, there is this enhanced attention, enhanced interest and enhanced processing that happens,” said Young, who works at the University of Delaware. “So things that you hear in the context of humor will be more on the top of your mind.”

But here’s where problem lies with fake news and the human mind. Our brains have a finite capacity for processing information and for remembering, so our minds make value judgments about what to keep. Humor tips the scales in favor of being remembered and recalled, even when counterarguments are strong.

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todaysdocument: fdrlibrary: The Day Before the...



The Day Before the Attack…

President Roosevelt studied this map on December 6, 1941. The pencil notations indicate the location of a Japanese fleet that was being tracked by British and American officials. It appeared to be headed towards Thailand or British Malaya.

What FDR and these officials did not know was that another Japanese fleet—operating under radio silence—was steaming, undetected, towards Hawaii at the same time.

Follow the National Archives this week, including our accounts at @usnatarchives, @fdrlibrary, @preservearchives, @congressarchives, @riversidearchives, and @ourpresidents, as we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with images, stories, and documents from our holdings.

Explore more resources and events on the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor from the National Archives »

“Neuroscientists call when a song is stuck in your head (or...

“Neuroscientists call when a song is stuck in your head (or earworms) Involuntary Musical Imagery. A majority of the time, earworms consist of just fragments of familiar songs that repeat over and over, rather than just a complete song.”

You know, like any of these: 

heh heh. Yeah, we’re sorry. Kinda. 

Want to learn how to get them out? Check out this video from @braincraft

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