Understanding Deception: Rex Sorgatz on Misinformation

Paul welcomes back Rex Sorgatz, hybrid media strategist, entrepreneur, and author of The Encyclopedia of Misinformation

How can true information be used to rile communities? What is the difference between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation? How is deception tracked and quantified? Is the next generation more media literate?

Rex Sorgatz by Andrew Spear

Häagen-Dazs is from the Bronx; Umami is from LA: This week, Paul Ford sits down with Encyclopedia of Misinformation author Rex Sorgatz. We discuss his new book, the ways marketers, newsrooms, and scientists use deception to their advantage, and the diffusion of misinformation. We talk about our role as consumers and how we’re changing the media literacy movement to revolve around systems of thought, rather than presenting everything as opposition. Rex also shares a list of supermyths (Spoiler: Colombus knew the Earth was round before he set sail).

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1:40 — Rex: “Misinformation is data that is incorrect, effectively. Disinformation is intentionally spreading that information… Malinformation, which is relatively new, is not actually incorrect information, it’s information that is correct but spread with the intent of abuse.”

6:30 — Rex: “[Conspiracy theories] moved out of pop culture and onto the internet. I think back then, it was a playful thing, but now in the age of Infowars, I don’t know what to call it anymore. It’s a completely different thing.”

11:00 — Rex: “I grew up in a small town before the internet and I still remember having access to information that didn’t seem right.”

15:34 — Paul: “So this is a practical guide to the nightmare mediascape in which we find ourself.”

16:40 — Rex: “I tell people it’s barely a book. My publisher said to stop saying that…”

25:30 — Rex: “Instead we should try to think about how other people are coming to the conclusions that they’re coming to — it’s not a matter of what, it’s a matter of how. I think there’s a lesson in there about media literacy for kids, that we work toward letting them understand systems of thought, not presenting everything as opposition.”

26:20 — Paul: “We consume so much media, so much, all day… People are willing to lightly hold and connect to all kinds of ideas as they suck media down their media holes in their brains. Part of the literacy is giving people the credit as discerning consumers who accept and reject the things that they’re hearing.”

28:30 — Rex: “Learning is systems more than it is facts.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.