The Bad News about Fake News

We can try to combat the fake news culture by:

  1. Regulating media, forcing them to stop
  2. Asking media to stop

Obviously, these are not viable solutions. Regulating media would be censorship. If existing news outlets policed themselves, other fake news sites would arise like to fill the gap and lure the unwitting.

Another option is for us to take responsibility for seeking truth rather than taking the bait of headlines that fit our pre-existing worldviews. Yet the latter tendency is precisely what evolution selected and is difficult to override. Media outlets dedicated to fact-checking and balanced editorials are themselves subject to bias. Moreover, people generally don’t seek those features in the first place or they process the information through biased mental models. Primary sources, even when available, are rarely offered or sought.

There is no tidy solution and that’s troubling.