The Common Approach of Processing Information Can Lead to Deception
Try the “Scientist’s Way” to not fall prey to misinformation.
Information Age has peaked the news culture. From the snail-mail era to modern times, information advances faster than the blink of an eye. With the fast-pacing times, news remains a constant feed on our life’s desktop with information surmounting above the human capacity levels.
Amidst the sea of information, we stumble across various claims in our daily reads. At times authenticity of the claims stands in doubt, hypes confusions, and fires debates. Yesterday, during dining, my family was confused over a health-related debate that remained aired on their favorite news channel.
“Vegetarianism” is the only key to a healthy life, declared the report. While my mother shouldered the claims, the other members lamentably opposed them.
Depending on the news, whether a reported claim should remain embraced or avoided is a burning issue. Especially when fake news, misreporting, and alternative facts circulate everywhere in society, reading seems a challenging task. Most of the time, readers read news from the surface level, believe what remains presented, and avoid researching whether the news is true or false.
At this junction, reading news like scientists can help distance the flaws of misinformation as they view the information concretely before drawing the end-conclusions. In my writing journey, the authenticity of the news source holds utmost importance, and likewise to others. An analysis of the traits of scientists, some of which I have mentioned below, helped me read the news at its core rather than the common approach of reading it superficially.
Identifying the genuineness of the claimed source
With the advent of digital technology, the exhausting plague of unreliable information is parachuting. Advancing times have exerted incrementing pressure that makes it challenging for people to discern accurate information. Hard-wired opinions, white lies, and a tendency to air the news firsthand to draw limelight crush the news’s authenticity straight away into the bins.
In our daily reading, listening to the news, or unraveling other information, the source’s verification holds significance. The researchers of science use a systematic and logical approach to discover how things in the Universe works. Through scientific inquiry, reliable knowledge of the world gets discovered.
On encountering information foremostly, the person's next step should be to evaluate the claimed source through reasoning.
- Are the sources identifiable and trustworthy?
- Who or which organization makes a claim?
- Is the conclusion logically evaluated?
If a report claims practicing Yoga is better than gymming exercises, although we might have our individual degree of likings, researching the cited claim accords a higher value of reliability. Instead of idolizing the claimed reports and creating a fallacy-based judgment, one must dig deeper into its roots.
We should thoroughly investigate the reports, apply a little more skepticism, check the precision along with the ambiguousness of the information, and evaluate rationally before making rushed conclusions. Rather than being clouded with emotional judgments, one must assemble facts and develop a rational attitude towards the claimed reports.
Awareness of the information consumed before acting on the conclusions alleviates us from falling into the information loopholes.
Developing a mindset like that of scientists helps in better news evaluation as they work under research-based evidence. Scientists conduct experiments and infer proof for a conclusion, unlike most audiences who neglect to prioritize evidence-related findings and believe only in the said.
Spotting differences in correlation and causation
Both Correlation and Causation can be slyly similar, but recognizing their difference can help us understand the actual thrust behind the meanings conveyed. It’s crucial as it authenticates a pattern that represents the dependent event being independent of its individual roots of Causation.
Correlation and Causation might exist at the same time, but correlation does not imply Causation. If we happen to witness a breakthrough headline in a website or a newspaper claiming that “Exercise is linked with an increase in the rate of health diseases,” what would be our immediate reaction?
- We might research to find a compelling answer that verifies the claims.
- Maybe individual temptations can cause us to derive the link of the claimed report, or
- Perhaps some people blindly get convinced with the report.
If the correlation is strong, reliable, and demonstrates multiple populations being affected, one might conclude that exercise causes health impairment. People might also develop a plausible hypothesis believing that strain from exercising makes the body lose its ability to protect itself from the damage.
Tyler Vigen, Harvard Law School member, describes the imagined hypothesis to link a piece of information as spurious correlations. These kinds of correlations interrupt the truth of the observational information, whether big or small.
While browsing information, recognizing the differences in correlation and Causation minimizes the logical fallacy error. Correlation tests a relationship between two variables, Causation, is the real-world explanation with logical interpretations examining the information. It implies a relationship of cause-and-effect. Simply put, Causation is correlation assigning reasons.
We must view the information broadly and derive alternative facts for the same phenomenon. And spot the errors of misinterpreted information or exaggerated ideas or the cumulative error depicting how inaccuracies in information arise when gossips or rumors spread. The more we access the data on the listed information, the higher is the reliability quotient.
Making decisions irrespective of the “Halo Effect”
Every individual has unique preferences or choices, be that in terms of taste, style, following a specific news feed or website, or admiring the insights of their favorite personalities. Mostly our choices are crystally-defined. These concrete preferences accelerate the feelings that make an individual claim biased judgments. The inclined feelings institute the cognitive biases.
For instance, if we admire someone, we are most likely to agree with that person’s insights, sometimes even without evaluating their claims. On the opposite end, disliking splits us from relying on the person or whatever the subject of inquiry is.
A basic human tendency called likings influence biased decisions. And the impressions we hold for a particular person or a source decide our accountability towards the information processed.
Unaware of the halo error phenomenon, my major learning process relied on a source that had my favoritism or biases towards the source accorded in the past years. While the insights presented there were primarily correct, but at one point, not validating the claims left me with a distorted overview of the whole topic. To have favorites is no wrong, but blind favoritism is like looking at the original information with both eyes closed.
The above life incident illustrates how the first impression formed influences the workings of the halo effect. The “halo effect” is a psychological term that depicts an error in reasoning based on one single trait or the end impression an individual creates about a person or thing.
Human behavioral characteristics like holding impressions exist to influence multiple judgments. Being aware of the halo error phenomenon helps us process the information better and alter our thinking to make informed decisions while evaluating the claims. Engaging with the news like that of scientists helps us explores novel ideas and remarkable discoveries that we might not have imagined.
Understanding the characteristic traits of scientists directs us to engage with the news like a scientist. The rationality developed enables us to understand the texts better. Through an experimental and methodic approach, we can narrow down the bugs of tapping into the misinformations.
Rather than stimulating decisions based on gut feelings and emotions, when people switch on to become scientists in reading, their brain’s augmentation capacity increases that bless them with superhuman powers to learning.
Cultivating the habit of reading news like a scientist has widened the logical skills of mine and simultaneously expanded the respective knowledge base. These skills can also leave other readers to discern sources that can be trusted and which shouldn’t. After all, authenticity withstands true wisdom.