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Renee Hobbs
Professor of Communication Studies
Director, Media Education Lab
University of Rhode Island USA
Twitter: @rene...
@reneehobbs @MedEduLab
www.mediaeducationlab.com
Summer Institute in Digital Literacy
July 23 – 28, 2017
Can learning about conspiracy theories advance your
digital and media literacy competencies?
LOVE HATE
CONSPIRACY THEORIES
How Many Do You Recognize?
Who Killed JFK? 9/11
Area 51 Holocaust
Birtherism Moon Landings
J...
DEFINE SOME VOCABULARY WORDS
TO UNDERSTAND CONSPIRACY THEORIES
conspiracy
anxiety
hoax
paranoid
pessimism
“false flag”
Are conspiracy theories
beneficial, harmless or
harmful?
Should students learn
to critically analyze
conspiracy theories i...
Some Conspiracy Theories are True
Conspiracy Theories
in an Information Age
1. Choice Overload
2. Sharing in a Network Culture
3. Six Types of Fake News
4. ...
Choice Overload
entertainment
information
persuasion
New Realities in a
Networked Global Society
 Cost to produce
content is low
 Massive
fragmentation of
production &
consu...
Six Types of Fake News
Disinformation
Propaganda
Hoax
Parody/Satire
Errors in Journalism
Partisanship
Informing and Engagi...
New Forms of Authority
Attention economics is surpassing traditional forms of authority and expertise
our attention — and...
 Selective exposure
 Confirmation bias
 Reality maintenance
 Performative sharing
60% of people share
content without
...
Report from Iron Mountain
Government
commission concludes:
Peace is not in the
interest of a stable
society.
Even if lasting peace
"could be achieve...
Becomes a best selling
book, translated into 15
languages
1972: Leonard Lewin
admits he is the author
& explains its purpo...
1990:
Liberty Lobby publishes
the report as a public
domain document
Right-wing websites re-
distribute it online
Context ...
Both LEFT AND RIGHT
WING radicals believe
that government
creates war for
economic benefit
Context Shapes Text
Familiarity
Equals Believability
THE POWER OF A SINGLE EXPOSURE
Participants who were exposed to a conspiracy video were
s...
Autocomplete Censorship
Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry
TEAM 1
Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry
TEAM 2
Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry
TEAM 3
What did you learn?
What new questions
have emerged?
TIME TO REFLECT
Workshop: Critically Analyzing
Conspiracy Theories
http://bit.ly/markdice
Annotate a Video to Critically Analyze It
https://flipgrid.com/40fe49
REFLECT ON SOMETHING YOU LIKED OR LEARNED
Using Today’s Meet
www.todaysmeet.com/conspiracy
Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry
“The thing is, Google
search isn’t neutral. Like
any other set of complex
algorithms...
re
Conspiracy theories are alarm systems
that help people deal with threat. They
resonate most among groups suffering
from...
Are conspiracy
theories beneficial,
harmless or harmful?
Should students learn
how to critically
analyze conspiracy
theori...
 Understand differences in the quality of information
sources
 Distinguish between anecdote and authoritative evidence
...
By exploring conspiracy theories, students strengthen
critical thinking skills that advance media literacy
Discussion of conspiracy theories is
motivating to adolescent learners
 Students improve Internet search skills
 They pr...
Teaching about conspiracy theories risks
validating them
 There’s not enough time in class to
examine evidence in depth
...
Are conspiracy
theories beneficial,
harmless or harmful?
Should students learn
how to critically
analyze conspiracy
theori...
Conspiracy theories are constructed by people, they have
an author, purpose, point of view & bias
Even brief exposures to ...
www.mindovermedia.tv@reneehobbs
www.mindovermedia.tv@reneehobbs
@reneehobbs
@reneehobbs
Digital and Media Literacy
Empowers People as Both Consumers and Creators
Renee Hobbs
Professor of Communication Studies
Director, Media Education Lab
Harrington School of Communication
and Media
...
Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories
Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories
Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories
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Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories

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Professor Renee Hobbs offers a workshop on conspiracy theories to German teachers and students, with support from the U.S. Department of State.

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Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories

  1. 1. Renee Hobbs Professor of Communication Studies Director, Media Education Lab University of Rhode Island USA Twitter: @reneehobbs A Workshop: Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories Landeszentrale fur politische Bildung Berlin May 19, 2017
  2. 2. @reneehobbs @MedEduLab www.mediaeducationlab.com
  3. 3. Summer Institute in Digital Literacy July 23 – 28, 2017
  4. 4. Can learning about conspiracy theories advance your digital and media literacy competencies?
  5. 5. LOVE HATE CONSPIRACY THEORIES How Many Do You Recognize? Who Killed JFK? 9/11 Area 51 Holocaust Birtherism Moon Landings Jesus and Mary Magdalene Illuminati CIA Experiments Chemtrails Elvis Ebola Vaccines Global Warming
  6. 6. DEFINE SOME VOCABULARY WORDS TO UNDERSTAND CONSPIRACY THEORIES conspiracy anxiety hoax paranoid pessimism “false flag”
  7. 7. Are conspiracy theories beneficial, harmless or harmful? Should students learn to critically analyze conspiracy theories in school? Why or why not?
  8. 8. Some Conspiracy Theories are True
  9. 9. Conspiracy Theories in an Information Age 1. Choice Overload 2. Sharing in a Network Culture 3. Six Types of Fake News 4. New Forms of Authority 5. Norms of Human Information Processing 6. Why We Share 7. How Context Shapes Text 8. Familiarity = Believability
  10. 10. Choice Overload entertainment information persuasion
  11. 11. New Realities in a Networked Global Society  Cost to produce content is low  Massive fragmentation of production & consumption  Viral sharing means popularity = profit  Content is consumed as unbundled snippets on social media
  12. 12. Six Types of Fake News Disinformation Propaganda Hoax Parody/Satire Errors in Journalism Partisanship Informing and Engaging the Public Controlling Knowledge, Attitudes & Values Cultural Criticism or Creative Expression
  13. 13. New Forms of Authority Attention economics is surpassing traditional forms of authority and expertise our attention — and most of it free — being found is valuable."  Immediacy  Personalization  Interpretation  Findability
  14. 14.  Selective exposure  Confirmation bias  Reality maintenance  Performative sharing 60% of people share content without reading/viewing it Human Information Processing
  15. 15. Report from Iron Mountain
  16. 16. Government commission concludes: Peace is not in the interest of a stable society. Even if lasting peace "could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve it.” Context Shapes Text
  17. 17. Becomes a best selling book, translated into 15 languages 1972: Leonard Lewin admits he is the author & explains its purpose as dark political satire Context Shapes Text
  18. 18. 1990: Liberty Lobby publishes the report as a public domain document Right-wing websites re- distribute it online Context Shapes Text
  19. 19. Both LEFT AND RIGHT WING radicals believe that government creates war for economic benefit Context Shapes Text
  20. 20. Familiarity Equals Believability THE POWER OF A SINGLE EXPOSURE Participants who were exposed to a conspiracy video were significantly less likely to : • think that there is widespread scientific agreement on human-caused climate change • sign a petition to help reduce global warming • donate or volunteer for a charity in the next six months. --Daniel Jolley and Karen Douglas, 2013
  21. 21. Autocomplete Censorship
  22. 22. Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry TEAM 1
  23. 23. Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry TEAM 2
  24. 24. Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry TEAM 3
  25. 25. What did you learn? What new questions have emerged? TIME TO REFLECT
  26. 26. Workshop: Critically Analyzing Conspiracy Theories
  27. 27. http://bit.ly/markdice Annotate a Video to Critically Analyze It
  28. 28. https://flipgrid.com/40fe49
  29. 29. REFLECT ON SOMETHING YOU LIKED OR LEARNED Using Today’s Meet www.todaysmeet.com/conspiracy
  30. 30. Media Literacy: A Pedagogy of Inquiry “The thing is, Google search isn’t neutral. Like any other set of complex algorithms, search is shot through with the values of its creators.” -Wohlsen, 2016
  31. 31. re Conspiracy theories are alarm systems that help people deal with threat. They resonate most among groups suffering from loss, weakness, or disunity. --Uscinski & Parent, 2014
  32. 32. Are conspiracy theories beneficial, harmless or harmful? Should students learn how to critically analyze conspiracy theories in school? Why or why not? TIME TO REFLECT
  33. 33.  Understand differences in the quality of information sources  Distinguish between anecdote and authoritative evidence  Recognize disinformation and propaganda  Understand how search engines operate  Use a variety of websites with different perspectives and recognize their points of view  Apply critical questions to analyze YouTube video  Appreciate the importance of source verification of online information  Participate in online dialogue by composing responses that demonstrate independent thinking and respect for others’ views
  34. 34. By exploring conspiracy theories, students strengthen critical thinking skills that advance media literacy
  35. 35. Discussion of conspiracy theories is motivating to adolescent learners  Students improve Internet search skills  They practice reasoning and analysis skills in a structured way  They improve their communication and collaboration skills  The topic is perceived as relevant and timely  Discussion and critical analysis promotes intellectual curiosity
  36. 36. Teaching about conspiracy theories risks validating them  There’s not enough time in class to examine evidence in depth  There’s too much junk information online on these topics  It’s too easy to trivialize conspiracy theories, reinforcing “us” and “them” thinking
  37. 37. Are conspiracy theories beneficial, harmless or harmful? Should students learn how to critically analyze conspiracy theories in school? Why or why not? TIME TO REFLECT
  38. 38. Conspiracy theories are constructed by people, they have an author, purpose, point of view & bias Even brief exposures to conspiracy theories can increase their believability Composing critical commentary about conspiracy theories using digital annotation tools may advance the development of critical thinking skills Conspiracy theories resonate in an age of anxiety by simplifying complex and ambiguous realities People need to take time to reflect on how conspiracy theories reflect and shape perceptions of the world
  39. 39. www.mindovermedia.tv@reneehobbs
  40. 40. www.mindovermedia.tv@reneehobbs
  41. 41. @reneehobbs
  42. 42. @reneehobbs
  43. 43. Digital and Media Literacy Empowers People as Both Consumers and Creators
  44. 44. Renee Hobbs Professor of Communication Studies Director, Media Education Lab Harrington School of Communication and Media University of Rhode Island USA Email: hobbs@uri.edu Twitter: @reneehobbs WEB: www.mediaeducationlab.com

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