Facts alone no match for fake news - author

Facts alone can't combat misinformation in the post-truth era, according to Kiwi academic and author Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw.

"As we have democratised the availability of information we haven't democratised the skills to assess what is good and bad information," Dr Shaw told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

She says misinformation is "sticky", meaning that once someone is convinced of something, it is very hard to change their mind, regardless of the strength of evidence presented to them.

"Once misinformation embeds, it is very difficult to remove it from people. What we do know is simply negating it, for example myth-busting, isn't a particularly effective way to remove a well-embedded belief."

She suggests the best option can be stopping a falsehood from being believed in the first place, or at least warning audiences that they might soon be exposed to false information.

Dr Shaw is the author of A Matter of Fact: Talking Truth in a Post-truth World and is the Co-Director of The Workshop, a not-for profit research and policy collaborative.

She stresses the importance of focusing on 'values' instead of purely on facts.

"What we know is that logic comes very late in the process for most people when they get new information. What they first filter it through is "Does this matter to me? Does it fit with my values that I already have?"

Using the example of climate change, Dr Shaw says science communicators should focus on promoting values which resonate with their audiences instead of purely focusing on data.  

"Addressing climate change is crucial to human survival, so we need to start talking about that as mattering….and looking after each other as mattering before we start talking about the facts."

Watch the video for the full interview.

Newshub Nation.

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