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The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread

New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press (2019)

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  1. Structure-Sensitive Testimonial Norms.Benedikt T. A. Höltgen - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-23.
    Although there has been a lot of investigation into the influence of the network structure of scientific communities on the one hand and into testimonial norms on the other, a discussion of TNs that take the network structure into account has been lacking. In this paper, I introduce two TNs which are sensitive to the local network structure. According to these norms, scientists should give less weight to the results of well-connected colleagues, as compared to less connected ones. I employ (...)
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  • Conformity in Scientific Networks.Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7257-7278.
    Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...)
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  • Virtues for Agents in Directed Social Networks.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    In the age of the Internet, people have increased access to information along multiple dimensions. It might seem that we are on our way to an epistemic utopia in which we spend less time and effort on basic cognitive tasks while devoting more time and effort to complex deliberation. However, though there are many accurate sources on the Internet, they must be sifted from the spammers, concern trolls, practical jokers, conspiracy theorists, counterintelligence sock-puppets, and outright liars who also proliferate online. (...)
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  • Sharing (Mis) Information on Social Networking Sites. An Exploration of the Norms for Distributing Content Authored by Others.Lavinia Marin - forthcoming - Ethics and Information Technology.
    This article explores the norms that govern regular users’ acts of sharing content on social networking sites. Many debates on how to counteract misinformation on Social Networking Sites focus on the epistemic norms of testimony, implicitly assuming that the users’ acts of sharing should fall under the same norms as those for posting original content. I challenge this assumption by proposing a non-epistemic interpretation of information sharing on social networking sites which I construe as infrastructures for forms of life found (...)
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  • Endogenous epistemic factionalization.James Owen Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Why do people who disagree about one subject tend to disagree about other subjects as well? In this paper, we introduce a model to explore this phenomenon of ‘epistemic factionization’. Agents attempt to discover the truth about multiple propositions by testing the world and sharing evidence gathered. But agents tend to mistrust evidence shared by those who do not hold similar beliefs. This mistrust leads to the endogenous emergence of factions of agents with multiple, highly correlated, polarized beliefs.
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  • Informational Quality Labeling on Social Media: In Defense of a Social Epistemology Strategy.John P. Wihbey, Matthew Kopec & Ronald Sandler - manuscript
    Social media platforms have been rapidly increasing the number of informational labels they are appending to user-generated content in order to indicate the disputed nature of messages or to provide context. The rise of this practice constitutes an important new chapter in social media governance, as companies are often choosing this new “middle way” between a laissez-faire approach and more drastic remedies such as removing or downranking content. Yet information labeling as a practice has, thus far, been mostly tactical, reactive, (...)
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  • The Dynamics of Retraction in Epistemic Networks.Travis LaCroix, Anders Geil & Cailin O’Connor - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (3):415-438.
    Sometimes retracted or refuted scientific information is used and propagated long after it is understood to be misleading. Likewise, retracted news items may spread and persist, despite being publi...
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  • Towards a Critical Social Epistemology for Social Media.Joshua Habgood-Coote - manuscript
    What are the proper epistemic aims of social media sites? A great deal of social media critique is in the grips of an Epistemic Apocalypse narrative, which claims that the technologies associated with social media have catastrophically undermined our traditional knowledge-generating practices, and that the remedy is to recreate our pre-catastrophe practices as closely as possible. This narrative relies on a number of questionable assumptions, and problematically narrows the imaginative possibilities for redesigning social media. Our goal in this paper is (...)
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  • The Problem with Disagreement on Social Media: Moral Not Epistemic.Elizabeth Edenberg - forthcoming - In Elizabeth Edenberg & Michael Hannon (eds.), Political Epistemology. Oxford, UK:
    Intractable political disagreements threaten to fracture the common ground upon which we can build a political community. The deepening divisions in society are partly fueled by the ways social media has shaped political engagement. Social media allows us to sort ourselves into increasingly likeminded groups, consume information from different sources, and end up in polarized and insular echo chambers. To solve this, many argue for various ways of cultivating more responsible epistemic agency. This chapter argues that this epistemic lens does (...)
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  • Evolution, Cultural Evolution, and Epistemic Optimism: Alberto Acerbi. Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 272pp. ISBN: 9780198835943. Hugo Mercier. Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 384pp. ISBN: 9780691178707.Andrew Buskell - 2021 - Acta Biotheoretica 69 (2):173-183.
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  • Fake News and Epistemic Vice: Combating a Uniquely Noxious Market.Megan Fritts & Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    The topic of fake news has received increased attention from philosophers since the term became a favorite of politicians (Habgood-Coote 2016; Dentith 2016). Notably missing from the conversation, however, is a discussion of fake news and conspiracy theory media as a market. This paper will take as its starting point the account of noxious markets put forward by Debra Satz (2010), and will argue that there is a pro tanto moral reason to restrict the market for fake news. Specifically, we (...)
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  • How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policymakers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks.James Owen Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor & Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1157-1186.
    In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...)
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  • Optimism for Naturalized Social Metaphysics: A Reply to Hawley.Daniel Saunders - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (2):138-160.
    Metaphysics has undergone two major innovations in recent decades. First, naturalistic metaphysicians have argued that our best science provides an important source of evidence for metaphysical theories. Second, social metaphysicians have begun to explore the nature of social entities such as groups, institutions, and social categories. Surprisingly, these projects have largely kept their distance from one another. Katherine Hawley has recently argued that, unlike the natural sciences, the social sciences are not sufficiently successful to provide evidence about the metaphysical nature (...)
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  • 2006.Alvin Goldman - forthcoming - Social Epistemology. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Available From Http://Plato. Stanford. Edu/Entries/Epistemology-Social.
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  • Scientific Polarization.Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):855-875.
    Contemporary societies are often “polarized”, in the sense that sub-groups within these societies hold stably opposing beliefs, even when there is a fact of the matter. Extant models of polarization do not capture the idea that some beliefs are true and others false. Here we present a model, based on the network epistemology framework of Bala and Goyal, 784–811 1998), in which polarization emerges even though agents gather evidence about their beliefs, and true belief yields a pay-off advantage. As we (...)
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  • Developing a Model of Groupstrapping: A Response to Baumgaertner and Nguyen.Kenneth Boyd - 2019 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 8 (8):32-39.
    In their responses to my article “Epistemically Pernicious Groups and the Groupstrapping Problem” (Boyd, 2018), Bert Baumgaertner (“Groupstrapping, Boostrapping, and Oops-strapping: A Reply to Boyd”) and C. Thi Nguyen (“Group-strapping, Bubble, or Echo Chamber?”) have raised interesting questions and opened lines of inquiry regarding my discussion of what I hope to be a way to help make sense of how members of groups can continue to hold beliefs that are greatly outweighed by countervailing evidence (e.g. antivaxxers, climate-change deniers, etc.). Here (...)
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  • Theory and Observation in Science.Jim Bogen - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Scientists obtain a great deal of the evidence they use by observingnatural and experimentally generated objects and effects. Much of thestandard philosophical literature on this subject comes from20th century logical positivists and empiricists, theirfollowers, and critics who embraced their issues and accepted some oftheir assumptions even as they objected to specific views. Theirdiscussions of observational evidence tend to focus on epistemologicalquestions about its role in theory testing. This entry follows theirlead even though observational evidence also plays important andphilosophically interesting roles (...)
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