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Evaluating News: "Fake News" and Beyond

Thanks to Erica Nicol at Washington State University for permission to use her work

Check Your Bias

Our biases can make all of us susceptible to inaccurate information, claims with limited or incomplete evidence, misinformation, and disinformation. 

Bias is a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone.

  • Implicit or unconscious bias: Implicit bias includes attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) about other people, ideas, issues, or institutions that affect our opinions and behavior but occur outside of our conscious awareness and control. Everyone has implicit biases that they have developed over a lifetime; even people who try to remain impartial, like judges and journalists, are affected by these biases. However, people can work to identify harmful implicit biases and then work to change these biases.
  • Explicit bias: Explicit bias refers to attitudes and beliefs (positive or negative) that we consciously or deliberately hold and express about a person or group. 

Cognitive biases are often framed as recognizable patterns of deviation from logical thought, or common errors in judgment. There are several cognitive biases that you should be on the alert for, including:

  • Confirmation bias: Confirmation bias, or the selective collection of evidence, is our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses. Confirmation bias is both affected by and feeds our implicit biases. It can be most entrenched around beliefs and ideas that we are strongly attached to or that provoke a strong emotional response.

Source: "Confirmation and Other Biases." Facing History and Ourselves. 

Watch the following video to learn about confirmation bias:

Source: Above the Noise. "Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News?" Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 3 May 2017. 18 June 2020.