The problem of public misinformation has become surprisingly common in the U.S. setting, causing numerous clashes between citizens. The study by Scheufele and Krause (2019) seeks to analyze the process of becoming misinformed about basic scientific knowledge, which seems to have become an issue in the American social environment. Specifically, the perception of the scientific reality of the contemporary world seems to have been skewed among a range of American citizens (Scheufele & Krause, 2019).
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The goal of the research is to show the effects of misinformation on the lives of ordinary people, namely, the ability and motivation to locate falsehoods, as well as the general probability of receiving the correct information. Due to multiple roots of misinformation, eradicating it does not completely seem to be possible. Yet, there is a chance to reduce the effects of falsehoods on individuals by introducing critical thinking and training the skills of discerning between questionable data and verified one.
For modern citizens, being misinformed about the basic facts of science means several implications, most of which concern the ability to develop critical thinking. The loss of understanding of science is one of the major and the most devastating outcomes.
Entailing the loss of the ability to question new information, the specified change suggests that people are no longer capable of assessing risks related to the use of innovative technologies, which increases their exposure to risks and cyber threats (Scheufele & Krause, 2019). In addition, the presence of conspiratorial beliefs complicates the process of obtaining knowledge and dispersing it among general audiences. Moreover, if an individual’s beliefs are inconsistent with the ones supported by science, further misinformation becomes highly probable.
Using a systematic review of the existing studies concerning the nature of misinformation and the factors that cause people to absorb the data that is inconsistent with objective reality, the authors of the study have made it possible to encompass every major factor causing misinformation to occur. The key themes concerning the nature of misinformation, its persistence, and the methods of managing it have been identified in the process.
The causes of misinformation are numerous and diverse, ranging from personal inability to acquire and perceive correct data to the use of motivated reasoning against the logical one. Furthermore, Scheufele and Krause (2019) explain that misinformation in groups is much harder to address due to the constant reiteration of facts and the group support received by its members. Thus, inaccurate and even false assumptions continue to thrive.
The results of the study also indicate that there are several ways of addressing the outlined problem on multiple levels. Since the issue is composed of numerous components, the systems approach is the most effective tool for addressing misinformation at local and global levels. Scheufele and Krause (2019) recommend analyzing the belief systems sustained within communities as the method of approaching misinformation and reducing it.
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In addition, the ability to read social cues and apply the specified knowledge to identify misinformation in media is Scheufele and Krause’s (2019) key suggestion. Although the described strategies will not shield people from any falsehood, they will teach them to differentiate between deliberate misinformation and possible truth. As a result, a community where pursuing progress and promoting shared knowledge and continuous progress will be built.
Scheufele, D. A., & Krause, N. M. (2019). Science audiences, misinformation, and fake news. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(16), 7662-7669. Web.