As our world has become increasingly interconnected, the dangers posed by the spread of political misinformation have drastically risen. Now it is easier than ever to be tricked into believing falsehoods as algorithms feed into our biases, moderating systems fail, and deepfakes make it increasingly difficult to distinguish what is and is not real. While this new world may seem intimidating, with the proper tools, you can learn how to effectively fight against the rising tide of political misinformation.
Break out of information bubbles
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid falling down the political misinformation rabbit hole and to prevent its spread. One of the most important is to be aware of your own biases. This step is crucial, especially as social media has made it easy for us to isolate ourselves in information bubbles where the only views expressed are those that reinforce our own. Breaking out of this bubble is useful for avoiding misinformation since it exposes you to fresh perspectives and provides a complete picture rather than just a portion of it.
Consider your sources
You should also always consider your sources of political information. This can be done by asking yourself some questions about the source. To start, does the source have any clear political leanings? Is it playing on emotions? Is any data that it cites verifiable? And ultimately, can the information be fact-checked against other reputable sources? Going into a source with these questions in mind is useful for mitigating misinformation because it forces you to consider multiple aspects of the source instead of just the information it is attempting to relay.
Call out misinformation when you see it
Once you have learned how to avoid and spot misinformation, you should always call it out when you see it. Seeing or hearing misinformation and then remaining silent only perpetuates the problem. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, get involved and provide facts. Doing so directly challenges the spread of misinformation and can help those who have fallen victim to the growing misinformation crisis find the truth.
How a political science degree can help
Earning a political science degree helps prepare you to combat political misinformation. Political science programs challenge you to consider a wide range of topics from a variety of perspectives, some of which may run opposite to your own. Challenging your own perspectives allows you to broaden your mind to new and exciting ideas and teaches you to think critically from different points of view.
Additionally, you will learn firsthand how to conduct proper empirical research using the scientific method. This will help sharpen your logic and reasoning skills and give you valuable experience in the process of collecting facts, evaluating sources, and forming arguments. On top of exposing you to new concepts and training you in the research process, these programs prepare and encourage you to take an active role in our democratic society.
By: Aidan Montgomery, EKU graduate student
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