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Political Rumors: Why We Accept Misinformation and How to Fight It (Princeton Studies in Political Behavior #18)

Political Rumors: Why We Accept Misinformation and How to Fight It (Princeton Studies in Political Behavior #18)

Current price: $29.95
Publication Date: August 15th, 2023
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
ISBN:
9780691158389
Pages:
240
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Description

Why debunked political rumors persist and how to combat them

Political rumors and misinformation pollute the political landscape. This is not a recent phenomenon; before the currently rampant and unfounded rumors about a stolen election and vote-rigging, there were other rumors that continued to spread even after they were thoroughly debunked, including doubts about 9/11 (an "inside job") and the furor over President Obama's birthplace and birth certificate. If misinformation crowds out the truth, how can Americans communicate with one another about important issues? In this book, Adam Berinsky examines why political rumors exist and persist despite their unsubstantiated and refuted claims, who is most likely to believe them, and how to combat them.

Drawing on original survey and experimental data, Berinsky shows that a tendency toward conspiratorial thinking and vehement partisan attachment fuel belief in rumors. Yet the reach of rumors is wide, and Berinsky argues that in fighting misinformation, it is as important to target the undecided and the uncertain as it is the true believers. We're all vulnerable to misinformation, and public skepticism about the veracity of political facts is damaging to democracy. Moreover, in a world where most people simply don't pay attention to politics, political leaders are often guilty of disseminating false information--and failing to correct it when it is proven wrong. Berinsky suggests that we should focus on the messenger as much as the message of rumors. Just as important as how misinformation is debunked is who does the debunking.

About the Author

Adam J. Berinsky is the Mitsui Professor of Political Science at MIT and the founding director of the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab. A specialist in the fields of political behavior and public opinion, he is the author of Silent Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America (Princeton) and In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq.