POL113H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Confirmation Bias, Scapegoating
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How to spot fake news
1. Consider the source: is the site legitimate?
2. Read beyond the headline: it usually doesn’t tell the whole story
3. Check the author: who is the author? Credentials?
4. What’s the support?
5. Check the date: some false stories are just distortions of real events
6. Joke? Is satire labeled?
7. Check your biases: confirmation bias leads people to stock in info that confirms their beliefs
8. Consult the experts
Main Characteristics of Political Ideologies
1) Mass appeal and mobilization –try to get as many followers as possible.
2) Action oriented – political change is required or demanded.
3) Simplification – more complex perspectives or philosophies are radically simplified for easier
understanding and communication. Issues are posed in stark black or white terms, avoiding
nuance and in-depth examination.
4) Framing – some issues or values are highlighted; others are ignored or reduced in importance.
5) ½ Truths – there must be at least some partial truth in the ideology in order for it to have lasting
and/or effective appeal. Inconsistencies in any given ideology may not be detrimental to its
successful adherence or acceptance.
6) Appeal to common sense – make contestable ideas seem natural, self-evident or non-debatable.
7) Scapegoating – use the threat of “others” or “enemies” to bind the group together and explain
why the ideology has not succeeded so far. This may culminate in conspiracy theories.
8) Goal culture – posit a “best possible or ideal” condition, if/when threats are defeated.
➢ Explore the core values and objectives of competing political ideologies in order to better
understand our own unexamined assumptions about politics and human nature.
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