Radio host Alex Jones

Alex Jones and the illusory truth effect, explained

In Vox, Roddy Roediger explains how Alex Jones uses the illusory truth effect.

"The research here suggests that even when there are fact checks around bullshit claims, the illusory truth effect still influences our memories to confuse fact and fiction.

It’s because our memories aren’t so great. Recently I had a conversation with Roddy Roediger, one of the nation’s foremost experts on learning and memory. In his experiments, he shows how even small suggestions from others can push us to remember whole scenes and experiences differently. And we tend to sloppily remember events like news reports.

“When you see a news report that repeats the misinformation and then tries to correct it, you might have people remembering the misinformation because it's really surprising and interesting, and not remembering the correction,” Roediger, a psychologist at Washington University in Saint Louis, said. (And for Jones fans who may be watching the interview, Kelly’s corrections were very unlikely to have an impact on their views. A lot of psychological research finds that corrections often backfire, leaving people more dead-set in the prior held beliefs.)

In one arm of his experiment, Pennycook even put a warning around the fake news headlines when participants first read them. “Disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers,” the note read (which is Facebook’s exact wording for how they’re labeling dubious stories.) The warning made no difference.

“We basically said, ‘This is something you shouldn’t believe,’” he says. But participants later on still rated those headlines as being more accurate than ones they had never seen before."

Read more of this article at Vox.