Tag Archives: Can tear-jerkers turn you liberal? As Good As It Gets and The Rainmaker make you soppy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

5 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART:

Moi read with interest the following article from the Daily Mail, Can tear-jerkers turn you liberal? As Good As It Gets and The Rainmaker make you soppy, says study:

Sentimental films make you more liberal, research suggests.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports.
Todd Adkins, of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said audiences seemed to turn off their critical faculties when they reach the cinema.
Sentimental films, such as The Rainmaker (pictured), make you more liberal, research suggests
‘Viewers come expecting to be entertained and are not prepared to encounter and evaluate political messages as they would during campaign advertisements or network news,’ he said.
Dr Adkins’ research, published in the journal Social Science Quarterly, was based on a study of 268 students who were asked about their political views, shown a film and then questioned again.
Half identified themselves as politically conservative.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530224/Can-tear-jerkers-turn-liberal-As-Good-As-It-Gets-The-Rainmaker-make-soppy-says-study.html#ixzz2pC6I7eaD

See, Moving Pictures? Experimental Evidence of Cinematic Influence on Political Attitudes†
Todd Adkins,
Jeremiah J. Castle*
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2013
DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12070
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ssqu.12070/abstract

There is a long history of movies being used as propaganda. The History Learning Site said this in the article, Propaganda in Nazi Germany:

Hitler came to power in January 1933. By May 1933, the Nazi Party felt sufficiently strong to publicly demonstrate where their beliefs were going when Goebbels organised the first of the infamous book burning episodes. Books that did not match the Nazi ideal was burnt in public – loyal Nazis ransacked libraries to remove the ‘offending’ books. “Where one burns books, one eventually burns people” commented the author Brecht.
The same approach was used in films. The Nazis controlled film production. Films released to the public concentrated on certain issues : the Jews; the greatness of Hitler; the way of life for a true Nazi especially children, and as World War Two approached, how badly Germans who lived in countries in Eastern Europe were treated. Leni Riefenstahl was given a free hand in producing Nazi propaganda films. A young film producer, she had impressed Hitler with her ability. It was Riefenstahl who made “Triumph of Will” – considered one of the greatest of propaganda films despite its contents.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/propaganda_in_nazi_germany.htm

Hollywood films quite often represent cultural propaganda.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New York article, The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Is on Your Screen:

You don’t have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television (I’m not) to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism. Americans for Responsible Television and Christian Leaders for Responsible Television would be flipping out over the modern family in Modern Family, not to mention the girls of Girls and the gays of Glee, except that those groups went defunct long ago. The liberal analysis of the economic crisis—that unregulated finance took wild gambles—has been widely reflected, even blatantly so, in movies like Margin Call, Too Big to Fail, and the Wall Street sequel. The conservative view that all blame lies with regulations forcing banks to lend to poor people has not, except perhaps in the amateur-hour production of Atlas Shrugged. The muscular Rambo patriotism that briefly surged in the eighties, and seemed poised to return after 9/11, has disappeared. In its place we have series like Homeland, which probes the moral complexities of a terrorist’s worldview, and action stars like Jason Bourne, whose enemies are not just foreign baddies but also paranoid Dick Cheney figures. The conservative denial of climate change, and the low opinion of environmentalism that accompanies it, stands in contrast to cautionary end-times tales like Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and the tree-hugging mysticism of Avatar. The decade has also seen a revival of political films and shows, from the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre through Veep and The Campaign, both of which cast oilmen as the heavies. Even The Muppets features an evil oil driller stereotypically named “Tex Richman.”
In short, the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. That shared reality is the cultural assumptions, in particular, of the younger voters whose support has become the bedrock of the Democratic Party….
A trio of communications professors found that watching Will & Grace made audiences more receptive to gay rights, and especially viewers who had little contact in real life with gays and lesbians. And that one show was merely a component of a concerted effort by Hollywood—dating back to Soap in the late seventies, which featured Billy Crystal’s groundbreaking portrayal of a sympathetic gay character, through Modern Family—to prod audiences to accept homosexuality. Likewise, the political persona of Barack Obama attained such rapid acceptance and popularity in part because he represented the real-world version of an archetype that, after a long early period of servile black stereotypes, has appeared in film and television for years: a sober, intelligent African-American as president, or in some other position of power….
This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite. http://nymag.com/news/features/chait-liberal-movies-tv-2012-8/

Some social media companies are labeling news or posts which they consider fake as “fake news” based upon their standards.

Science Daily reported in The catch to putting warning labels on fake news:

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.
That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.
“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.
“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.
Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”
Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.
The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better
To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”
The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.
However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.
“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.
“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications
The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.
“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200303140216.htm

Citation:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news
Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A new study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Journal Reference:
Gordon Pennycook, Adam Bear, Evan T. Collins, David G. Rand. The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings. Management Science, 2020; DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

Here is the press release from MIT:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

Study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

March 2, 2020

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.

That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.

“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.

“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.

Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”

Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.

The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better

To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”

The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.

However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.

“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.

“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications

The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.

“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says.
Rand notes that, while continued research on the subject is important, the current study suggests a straightforward way that social media platforms can take action to further improve their systems of labeling online news content.

“I think this has clear policy implications when platforms are thinking about attaching warnings,” he says. “They should be very careful to check not just the effect of the warnings on the content with the tag, but also check the effects on all the other content.”

Support for the research was provided, in part, by the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative of the Miami Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
________________________________________
More information: Gordon Pennycook et al, The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings, Management Science (2020). DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

The issue is whether the public in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in content. Schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

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