The Debunking Handbook 2020 has just been published and is an excellent free guide to address the mass amounts of misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda that flow through our digital communications everyday and then influence real life behaviours. I have discussed some of these phenomena previously, in confronting the post-truth machines and pre-bunking the conspiracy theorists.
The 19-page Handbook provides these handy definitions.
- Misinformation: False information that is disseminated, regardless of intent to mislead.
- Disinformation: Misinformation that is deliberately disseminated to mislead.
- Fake news: False information, often of a sensational nature, that mimics news media content.
- Continued influence effect: The continued reliance on inaccurate information in people’s memory and reasoning after a credible correction has been presented.
- Illusory truth effect: Repeated information is more likely to be judged true than novel information because it has become more familiar.
The information is clear and concise. I particularly like that the authors provide an example of a refutation. They also give these general guidelines.
Avoid scientific jargon or complex, technical language.
Well-designed graphs, videos, photos, and other semantic aids can be helpful to convey corrections involving complex or statistical information clearly and concisely.
The truth is often more complicated than some viral false claim. You must invest effort in translating complicated ideas so they are readily accessible to the target audience—so they can be easily read, easily imagined, and easily recalled.