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Fake news

Learning to distinguish fact from fiction

Fake news is not a new concept. People have been spreading misinformation to harm others or reach their own goals since at least the 13th century BC. What has changed in the last decades is the speed and ease with which fake news is disseminated. Using social media platforms, people can spread information (and misinformation) on a scale that would never be possible without these platforms. This leads to an increase in information available to the general public, which makes it harder to check all information to sort fact from fiction. At the same time it is more important than ever to be a critical consumer of information, because we are dealing with more unreliable sources than ever before. Especially in times of crisis (leading to a decline of trust in government, academia and media) fake news seems to spread uncontrollably.

It isn’t easy to recognize fake news, especially if the news fits in with your perspective on the world, and you feel it might have been true. On the other hand, it can be easy to accuse someone of spreading fake news, when they present information that doesn’t fit in your worldview (even if the information is actually true). It is important that people become more aware of the mechanisms behind fake news and of the consequences of the use of fake news. When people recognize fake news as being fake, their opinions and behaviour are less likely to be influenced by that news and they are less likely to spread the fake news to their networks. This could also lead to less polarization within society. Unfortunately, at this point, there aren’t many initiatives to teach people how to recognize and deal with fake news.

Client for this think tank is Margot Verleg, member of Benedmo (the Flemish-Dutch collaboration against disinformation, by and for factcheckers, media companies, scientists and other experts). As a student she founded Trust the Source, offering journalists and other fact checkers an online fact checking tool. She currently works at the Martini Hospital in Groningen, and she is interested in how medical professionals can learn how to recognize fake news.

The aim of this think tank is to design a course or programme that teaches people to recognize fake news and to respond to it adequately. For this think tank we focus on medical professionals, who since the COVID19-pandemic started have to deal with more fake news than most of us.

Kick-off weekend
The kick-off weekend of this think tank will be on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 February 2023 in the Huissen Monastery. The kick-off weekend is a mandatory part of the think tank.

Weekly meetings
After the kick-off, weekly meetings will take place on Thursdays from 18.30-20.30. The supervisors are present every other week.

Study trip
A study trip lasting up to three or four days is also part of this think tank. The dates and location will be determined in consultation with the group.

Dr. Yvette Linders, coordinator Peitho, Radboud Knowledge Centre for Rhetoric at Radboud University
Tim Houwen, programme coordinator RHA