Google “Top 10 Worst College Majors” and you’ll get over 700,000 results. Forbes put together a list of their own, and included English Language & Literature as one of them.
In a New York Times article, Verlyn Klinkenborg discussed the diminishing number of students majoring (or even studying) the humanities. She writes:
Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.
With tuition and loan interest rates rising, it makes sense that college students are focused on making money as soon as they can. Klinkenborg goes on to point out that:
English majors turn up almost anywhere, in almost any career, and they nearly always bring with them a rich sense of the possibilities of language, literary and otherwise.
Bonus: Read all of Klinkenborg’s work for the New York Times here.
Although real-time corrections are modestly more effective than delayed corrections overall, closer inspection reveals that this is only true among individuals predisposed to reject the false claim. In contrast, individuals whose attitudes are supported by the inaccurate information distrust the source more when corrections are presented in real time, yielding beliefs comparable to those never exposed to a correction.
R. Kelly Garrett and Brian E. Weeks, The Promise and Peril of Real-Time Corrections to Political Misperceptions (PDF).
Yesterday I published an article, Can Robots Tell the Truth?, that explores the Washington Post’s attempt to harness an algorithm that could conduct real-time fact checking on political speeches.
Today, Kelly and Brian forwarded this paper of theirs. It’s part of a larger project out of Ohio State University’s School of Communications called “Misperceptions in an Internet Era”. Their Twitter handle is @FalseBeliefNews.
So, if you take their findings and rewrite my headline, you’d end up with something along the lines of, “Who Cares if Robots Can Tell the Truth Because it’s not Going to Change Anyone’s Mind Anyway”.
Which is discouraging. — Michael.
By the way if CNN has taught us anything with their coverage of a hormone study about women and their voting habits, it’s that all this talk about “politically correct” science and science funding is bullshit.
CNN and news organizations are quicker to cover this shit than they are covering studies a few months from now that say that the initial study is “flawed” or not true.
FJP: May we introduce you to Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn Out to be False, summed up nicely by the CBC?
The researchers, lead by neurobiologist François Gonon, examined the way newspapers reported on a number of high profile studies on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They asked the question: do scientific claims reported in the media end up being proven true over time? Their answer: in most cases, no. Then they asked: do the media go back and set the record straight? No again.
In other words, we, in the media, make a big deal over a new research finding, but when it turns out to be less exciting, or even wrong after future research, we don’t tend to report that. ‘Never mind’ doesn’t usually make it into the news.
Misinformation and Its Correction is a nice follow-up when your depression about the above dissipates and you want to hunker back down into it again.
Misinformation is even more likely to travel and be amplified by the ongoing diversification of news sources and the rapid news cycle. Today, publishing news is as simple as clicking “send.” This, combined with people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, tends to magnify the effects of misinformation. Nyhan says that although a good dose of skepticism doesn’t hurt while reading news stories, the onus to prevent misinformation should be on political pundits and journalists rather than readers. “If we all had to research every factual claim we were exposed to, we’d do nothing else,” Nyhan says. “We have to address the supply side of misinformation, not just the demand side.”
Correcting misinformation, however, isn’t as simple as presenting people with true facts. When someone reads views from the other side, they will create counterarguments that support their initial viewpoint, bolstering their belief of the misinformation. Retracting information does not appear to be very effective either. Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers in 2011 that showed a retraction, at best, halved the number of individuals who believed misinformation.