Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

talking points

Fighting misinformation – The Debunking Handbook

This isn’t going to be much of a diary. I came across this ‘handbook’ today. I thought some others might find it useful.


Debunking myths is problematic. Unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct. To avoid these “backire effects”, an effective debunking requires three major elements. First, the refutation must focus on core facts rather than the myth to avoid the misinformation becoming more familiar. Second, any mention of a myth should be preceded by explicit warnings to notify the reader that the upcoming information is false. Finally, the refutation should include an alternative explanation that accounts for important qualities in the original misinformation.


It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved. Reducing the influence  of  misinformation  is  a  difficult  and complex challenge.

A common misconception about myths is the notion  that  removing its  inluence  is as simple as packing more information into people’s heads. This approach assumes that public misperceptions are due to a lack of knowledge and that the solution is more information – in science communication, it’s known as  the “information  deicit  model”.  But that model is wrong: people don’t process information as simply as a hard drive downloading data.

The last thing you want to do when debunking misinformation is blunder in and make matters worse.  So  this  handbook  has  a  speciic  focus – providing practical tips to effectively debunk misinformation  and  avoid  the  various  backire effects. To achieve this, an understanding of the relevant cognitive processes is necessary. We explain some of the interesting psychological research in this area and inish with an example of an effective rebuttal of a common myth.

The handbook comes as a pdf. You can get it here –…

Need a little help with a diary idea.

I have been remiss when it comes to writing diaries for the Moose. I have lots of ideas, but they all involve heavy research and lots of work. That is a serious drawback for someone like me who’s main character trait is laziness mixed with a strong flavor of procrastination. But that isn’t the whole problem.

A bigger problem is that I don’t really feel any inspiration for any of the diary subjects I have in mind. One was a look at the current state of conservatism in the US. Another was a scholarly look at the meaning of progressivism and its role in society. Income and wealth inequality in the US is another topic that interests me greatly. Other ideas have come from some books on my recent reading list, like Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell and the biography of Benjamin Franklin I’m currently reading. All of these seem(ed) like great ideas, but they also seem like a lot of hard work for little reward.

Daily Republican Theater

A small sampling of current Republican lies talking points spin lies.

One of the most frustrating things about being a progressive in America is that we not only have to fight to get a fair hearing in the media we also have to battle the disinformation pushed by the Right.

Politics would be a lot more useful to the citizens of this country if there was a legitimate discussion about the pros and cons of policy proposals. Unfortunately, the Right doesn’t seem to want that discussion. I can’t really blame them since their policies have been shown to be faulty. All they seem to be left with are lies about the proposals offered by the Democrats.

The debate over the stimulus bill offers several examples of those Republican lies. Here are three outright lies that have been pushed by Republicans in the last few days.