Scientists have developed a "vaccine" to inoculate the public against climate change myths.
The fake news controversy has given Sander even der Linde a bright a idea. Line developed a study that aimed to provide a "cognitive repertoire" that will protect people from misinformation.
Fake News On Climate Change Can Go Viral
"Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and replicating like a virus," according to Dr van der Linden. Liden is also a social psychologist.
"We wanted to see if we could find a 'vaccine' by pre-emptively exposing people to a small amount of the type of misinformation they might experience. A warning that helps preserve the facts," he added.
The study was published in the Global Challenges journal. The authors provided comparisons on the reactions of more than 2,000 US residents regarding two global warming myths. One claim was about a well-known climate change fact, the other was taken from a viral misinformation campaign.
Upon consecutive presentation, the results proved that the "false material" significantly cancelled the accurate information in the people's minds.
The scientists then resorted to inoculation. Inoculation is a technique that allows introduction to distorted tactics by certain groups. Consequently, the group still presented a minimum quantity of misinformation and the factual information. Results show that the reactions and opinions were closer to the truth.
Despite exposure to fake news, general inoculation proved a 6.5 percent shift in the average opinion geared towards the acceptance of the climate change concensus.
"It's uncomfortable to think that misinformation is so potent in our society," expressed Dr. van der Linden. "A lot of people's attitudes toward climate change aren't very firm. They are aware there is a debate going on, but aren't necessarily sure what to believe. Conflicting messages can leave them feeling back at square one," he added.
The study is a response to the struggle of social media companies and news organizations in tackling the current issue on fake news. According to experts, the influence of fake news is a growing threat to the democratic processes of the nation.