There were some researches recently into
asking people to try to figure out
which of two websites was more credible.
And they asked a group of students and a group of journalists
and a group of professional fact checkers.
And interestingly, the students and journalists both
had a kind of mixed record,
and the professional fact checkers did very well.
And the difference in their approaches was significant
because essentially the students and a lot of the journalists
were looking at these websites, scrolling through them,
looking at how they appeared, reading the content on them,
whereas the fact checkers were looking around the websites.
So they were looking at
where are these sites referred to on the rest of the web
or do other experts in the field have to say about them.
Kind of all of the references in,
rather than the references on the web page.
Knowledge exists in a context,
and generally speaking, every once in a while
you’ll find kind of like the brilliant idea or the brilliant finding
that no one on the rest of the internet has discovered.
But mostly, smart people on the internet
have discovered most smart things on the internet.
And so it’s that process of triangulation,
where you’re looking for other experts who
will validate that this source or this idea is credible,
is really like the critical component of figuring out what to believe.
And people think, we all think
this is true with human beings
and it’s true with news or online sources.
We all think we’re very good judges of
who’s lying and who’s telling the truth.
But we’re very susceptible to, you know,
is it a beautiful serif font that it’s presented in
or is it something that looks lower grade
is the person charismatic or are they stuttering.
These cues turn out not to have very much to do with whats credible or not.
But we’re very susceptible to them,
and so that’s why sort of looking at who else believes that
this is credible is a really important part of the process.