Author:Doherty, Brian
Position:BOOK - Cailin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall's "The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread" - Brief article - Book review

In their book The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, a pair of professors of logic and philosophy of science from University of California Irvine, Cailin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall, use computer models to explain how judgments about things, such as the causes or best cures for certain illnesses, spread through scientific networks--and how that spread can cause false beliefs to dominate a community even if each of the participants is individually rational.

The authors offer juicy takeaways: We need to legally punish people for spreading unlabeled "fake news" and should abandon democratic control of "issues that require expert knowledge." On the latter point, they touch on what some economists call "rational ignorance" or even "rational irrationality"--when you have no direct influence over something, as in the outcome of voting, you have no incentive to do it intelligently.

Their models indicate that "mistrusting those with different beliefs is toxic" when it comes to truth discovery, and the stories they tell of science...

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