Fragmentation and Gullibility A Class Blog Presentation by Robbie Pelletier
Topic Question <ul><li>“ As the popularity of televised and internet-based news waxes stronger and the readership of printed news declines, news is becoming more and more fragmented. The media introduce a dazzling variety of stories, but provide little to no framework to link the information together. Logically, one would think that the constant bombardment of facts would make people more skeptical and questioning. However, we may also be witnessing the opposite effect - every year, more people fall for far-fetched and obviously untrue stories, like Barack Obama's belief in Islam, or John McCain's secret black baby. Do you think fragmentation is causing this apparent rise in gullibility?” </li></ul>What is making Americans more gullible?
Class Responses: Breakdown <ul><li>What’s causing the rise in gullibility? </li></ul>3 1 1 1
Fragmentation <ul><li>Fragmented news does not give people background information on a story </li></ul><ul><li>This makes it difficult for people to make rational judgments </li></ul><ul><li>Catherine: “As information becomes more readily available, Americans’ information is becoming more fragmented. Stories seem disconnected from the greater picture. People hear single accounts or read individual stories isolated from historical context or alternative opinions.” </li></ul>
Misinformation <ul><li>Most popular explanation </li></ul><ul><li>Fragmented news may lead people to imagine a framework that isn’t there; however, this is only a problem for uneducated people </li></ul><ul><li>News vs. entertainment </li></ul><ul><li>Skepticism is something that must be taught </li></ul><ul><li>Jessie: “People assume that fillers are relevant to the topic and do not argue with the news corporations because the people have been taught to trust them. Oftentimes, this rift between the intelligence of the journalists/news companies and intelligence of the people is caused the same kind of trust that we as a class are now learning to dismiss. Not everything that you read, see, or hear is true. If you have been taught to trust the media, your education is not fully developed.” </li></ul>
Various Factors <ul><li>Elisabeth: “My hypothesis is: uneducated population looking for entertainment + 24-hour news media looking to make profit = fragmentation that only helps to increase the gullibility of the American public.” </li></ul><ul><li>Many Americans blindly trust the news because of a post-Cold War “self-interested egotism” and a general lack of education </li></ul><ul><li>These people don’t question their own beliefs because their short attention spans keep them from focusing </li></ul><ul><li>This lack of focus is increased by fragmented news; a vicious cycle </li></ul>
Rejected Premise of Question <ul><li>Sarthak: “Gullible citizens? Takes one to know one…I reject the basic premise of the question - that is to say, I believe people today aren't more gullible, and I don't acknowledge that more absurd lies are bought now than were 100 years ago.” </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: James Callendar calling John Adams a “hideous hermaphrodite”, James Buchanan being accused of trying to hang himself, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ The real question to ask: Why is there an increased perception of slander and dirty politics?” </li></ul><ul><li>The real danger of fragmentation is that the “information overload” may cause people to avoid news sources completely </li></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>Class responses and articles posted were extremely informative, but also raise many questions </li></ul><ul><li>Can gullibility be blamed on any one thing alone? </li></ul><ul><li>What is my personal opinion? </li></ul>