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5 Ways To Avoid Being Suckered By Unreliable Information
Evan Selinger   Jan 25, 2014   Forbes  

Without “noise makers”—folks spreading rumors, false information, hoaxes, rumor, and hearsay—markets and the blogosphere might grind to a halt. But asVincent Hendricks argues in “When Twitter Storms Cause Financial Panic,” information bubbles can be immensely destructive. They can hurt the economy and damage society.

There’s no surefire way to use new media and only consume “correct information and convincing arguments.” Any consultant who tells you otherwise is, at best, exaggerating. Fortunately, there are simple things we all can do that can make a big difference. I reached out to Hendricks, Professor of Formal Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the new book Infostorms: How to Take Information Punches and Save Democracy.He offered the following basic recipe for determining if you’re stuck in an information bubble.


“1. Test your own argument: Do you have independent reasons for believing what apparently everybody else thinks everybody else believes? If you can’t come up with your own such argument, you may just be following other lemmings bubbling along who lack independent reasons for believing whatever is on the agenda.

2. Try your argument on others: One thing is for you to believe what you take to be the case based on your independent reasons – yet another is why others should accept the correctness of your information. Test-drive your argument – in that way you may steer clear of the bubbling bandwagon, and possibly get others already on it to jump off.

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Evan Selinger is Associate Professor of Philosophy and MAGIC Center Head of Research Communications, Community & Ethics, both at Rochester Institute of Technology. Evan publishes extensively in the areas of philosophy of technology, privacy, and ethics/policy of science and technology. To enhance public debate about ethics, Evan regularly supplements his peer-reviewed scholarship with outreach articles in places like The AtlanticWiredSlateForbes,The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation.

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