How ‘Doing Your Own Research’ Can Make You Believe Anything

If you’ve been online at all in the last decade, you would’ve seen the phrase do your own research in likely hundreds of comments sections.

It turns out doing your own research is precisely what can lead you to believing something untrue, according to a new study from the University of Central Florida.

The study consisted of five experiences, which its authors said all presented consistent evidence that online search to evaluate the truthfulness of false news articles actually increased probability oof believing them.

Listen to the episode of The Briefing here:

In this episode of The Briefing, we speak with lead author Kevin Aslett about why we’re more likely to believe misinformation even if we try to verify it.

“So recent research that we published in nature shows that actually searching online to fact checking this information is more likely to make people believe that misinformation,” Mr Aslett said.

If doing our own research isn’t reliable then, what can we do to make sure the information we consume is correct?

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“One strategy that we found to be effective is to actually fact check the sources of information rather than the individual claims,” Mr Aslett said.

“Because claims are rarely fact checked, but sources are fact checked.

“So, one strategy is called lateral reading and where instead of fact checking the individual claim, you fact check the source of that information.

“If you find information online that says that that source is biased or regularly publishes misinformation or low-quality news, then you should be sceptical of that information.”

To hear of the full chat with Kevin Aslett, listen to the episode of The Briefing on the LiSTNR app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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