Foiling Fake News: What’s Real, What’s Fake, What’s What

Fake news threatens the authority of journalism and the integrity of democracy, and it isn't going away any time soon. So how can the liberal arts defang the fake news phenomenon? Find out at "Foiling Fake News: A Multidisciplinary Discussion on Navigating the Media," an hour-long panel discussion at 11:05 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room of the Alvarez College Union. The event is free and open to the public.

"We are deeply concerned about American political culture, public discourse, and our ability to function as well-informed, deliberative citizens who can sustain an effective democracy," said Jason Blum, visiting assistant professor in the college writing program and an organizer of the event.

In March, Davidson launched "The Story of Fake News," a free, two-week online course, facilitated by journalists, scholars and media pundits.

Both current and future Davidson students are still honing their skills as information consumers in the age of fake news. At Thursday's panel, Davidson College librarians will lead an exploration of results from a recent survey of all incoming Davidson students, which included questions about how to evaluate fake news.

Professors from areas of study including philosophy, digital studies and environmental science will offer perspectives on where we are now and where we go from here as citizens and consumers.

"When you walk out of that room," said Blum, "you will be less likely to be fooled by fake news."

Panelist Perspectives

"Everyone's talking about fake news. But what is it? And how is it different from joke news, dumb news, and just plain bad news? The concept of fake news needs some analysis, and philosophy is here to provide it."

–Dan Layman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

"How does fake news go viral? What makes social media the perfect breeding ground for what one researcher calls VD–as in Viral Deception? Is it the "share" button? Retweets? Or something else entirely?"

–Mark Sample, Associate Professor of Digital Studies

"While a large majority of [incoming Davidson] students view fake news as a significant barrier to society's ability to recognize accurate information, more than half of them view fake news as only somewhat of a barrier to their own ability to recognize accurate information."

–James Sponsel, Information Literacy & Assessment Librarian

"One of the beautiful things about scientific facts is that you don't have to decide whether or not to believe them, they are simply facts. How often, however, are we asked if we ‘believe' in climate change, like it is a religion instead of a phenomenon grounded in scientific fact? I will discuss fact or fiction regarding the debate around climate change and provide resources for future use in fact checking."

-Cindy Hauser, Professor of Chemistry


John Syme