How can we fight disinformation and misinformation without censoring people?

There are a number of approaches that have worked in the past in the U.S. and in other countries, and they very likely could help now. I’ve listed some below. However, defensive tribalism around conspiracy groupthink has progressed to a level where it will likely take a generation or more to fish the crazies and their families out of the rabbit hole they’ve chosen to inhabit.

Some helpful tools:

1. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine for anyone who claims to be a “news” outlet (including Youtube channels, etc.) AND have the FCC oversee something similar for moderating social media.

2. Educate people about how to identify state-sanctioned disinformation techniques, partisan propaganda, logical fallacies, and the human psychology behind things like Dunning-Kruger effect and the illusory truth effect. At the same time, educate them about how to find more reliable sources of information. I’ve written about much of this here:

3. Increase critical thinking skills training at all levels of education.

4. Use humor to expose and diffuse false information

5. Hold people (and companies) criminally accountable for hate speech or any misinformation they propagate that results in people being injured, targeted, shamed, etc.

6. End privately funded political campaigns and all political advertising funded by superPACs, and instead allow only publicly funded campaigns for political office, with equal and balanced time for all candidates across all media (part of what the Fairness Doctrine used to promote).

I think that’s a start. But it is important to appreciate that there is a deep and abiding hunger among a lot of folks to sustain and amplify gossip, prejudice, anger, dissatisfaction, and “Us vs. Them” rhetoric. Unhappy people like to collect others with similar grievances and fears around themselves. It’s a very old and enduring human trait. And in order to combat that, humanity just needs to grow up a bit — morally and culturally. We all need to become a bit more prosocial as a species, and cultivate conditions that promote what I call “moral creativity.” I write about this here:

My 2 cents.


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