Why We Fall for Fake News and How to Bust It

Measuring the impact of fake news spread through Facebook or Twitter is more difficult. Did made-up reports of pre-election ballot-stuffing for Hillary Clinton in Ohio before the election change any votes? Perhaps not, but it did lead the story’s original author, a Republican legislative aide in Maryland, to lose his job last week On many college campuses, professors are teaching their students identify and analyze fake news shared on social…

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When it comes to the truth, point of view really does matter.

You may have seen a version of this meme floating around. I don’t know the source of the original, but just now I came across an adaptation by Haplo Schaffer: I like it, but I had some thoughts of my own. Hah! And showing that Haplo is an open-minded good sport about this whole thing…. More feedback… again, Haplo is being admirably open-minded, and her followers are participating in a…

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It’s Not “Fake News” Just Because You Disagree With It

I use the term “fake news” to refer to doctored social media posts that were never written by the purported authors, or real photos taken out of context and given new captions. Sharing such posts because they flatter your pre-conceived notions of the targets contributes to the devaluing of the truth. Politicians have put spins on news since there have been politicians. Satire has a long literary history. Tossing the…

Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school

The school was plagued by violence and disorder from the start, and by 2010 it was rank [sic] in the bottom five of all public schools in the state of Massachusetts. That was when Andrew Bott — the sixth principal in seven years — showed up, and everything started to change. “We got rid of the security guards,” said Bott, who reinvested all the money used for security infrastructure into the…

How to Deal With 2016 Despair

Don’t let a TV screen make you live a life of fear. Be thoughtful participants, not passive consumers, in your culture. Create something. Improve something. Maybe yourself. Maybe the Wikipedia page for your hometown. Share your creation. Encourage and appreciate and critique and applaud what those in your community have created. Increase the sum total of good things in the universe by participating in the life around you. Heavy TV…

This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human

Practicing empathy through drama and poetry and art and games and face-to-face conversations and human acts of all kinds matters. This article covers the specific social benefits that come from reading literary fiction. Film critic Roger Ebert called movies the most powerful empathy machines, but someone with the right knowledge base can say pretty much the same thing about other genres. What we can say about the virtues of movies…