If you're wondering why fake news continues to spread and even flourish, it's because many people actually believe it. While the old adage of don't believe everything you read (or see, or hear) still largely holds true, people are now finding ways to read, see and hear only what they want to believe. "You can go to the websites that tell you what you want to hear, you can pick social media friends that you agree with, and you can block out anyone you don't want to hear from," says Dr. Joseph Uscinski, political science professor at the University of Miami.
The ability to curate our own news and information environment has made us all more susceptible to falling for fake news, according to Dr. Uscinski. "We can create our own little bubbles," he tells KTRH. "And that opens up the possibility for us to receive information that isn't just biased, but it's perhaps fake and even conspiratorial."
Whether called fake news or conspiracy theories, these types of stories have always been around. In the 1960s there was widespread belief that the moon landing was staged and that the U.S. government was covering up the real killer of President John F. Kennedy. Nowadays we get things like the Russians stole the 2016 election or that the recent string of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats was actually an inside job by Democrats. "Rumors and fake ideas are just something that is part of the human experience," says Dr. Uscinski. "What's different now is the political situation, in which these are a major part of our normal political discussion."
When it comes to dueling theories or extreme explanations for events from opposing sides, another old adage applies...the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. "If you want to know the truth, the best thing to do is read at least two or three different news sources," says Dr. Uscinski. "And always withhold judgment until there's a lot of evidence for something."