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Fake News

Counterfactual views in a selfreinforcing environment

Hanns-Jürgen Hodann

Counterfactual views are claims or beliefs that are contrary to established facts. Such views can be extremely harmful.  An example would be the false claims made by climate-change-deniers. This simple graph of two self-reinforcing loops illustrates that there are circumstances where such false beliefs strengthen once a sufficiently large number have accepted them. The mechanism, well documented by research in cognitive psychology, is frequent repetition, which makes such false messages appear ever more familiar and to take on an air of factual truth.

An effective leverage point would be for newspapers and TV station simply to deny to authors that want to spread counterfactual views access to their platforms.  Whilst everybody has the right to express their opinion, does anybody have the right to invent their own facts in an attempt to undermine general well-being?

Social Psychology Fake News Counterfactual Views

  • 1 year 4 months ago