The below is from this book I am reading:
You can find the below referenced game here: https://harmonysquare.game/en
Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist who directs the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., has focused on conspiracism’s front end: potential believers.
Van der Linden has developed a new tool to build up people’s resistance against false news before they encounter it online. He and his colleagues worked with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency to build Harmony Square, a free, ten-minute online game that invites players to wreak disinformation havoc on a fictional, peaceful small town.
The game draws on “inoculation theory,” which holds that people exposed to a weakened version of misinformation-spreading techniques are better able to spot it and avoid sharing it in real life. As players travel through four levels of the game, they create a misinformation campaign, using techniques for spreading political misinformation around elections: “trolling, using emotional language, polarizing audiences, spreading conspiracy theories, and artificially amplifying the reach of their content through bots and fake likes.”
The researchers found that people who played the game found the manipulative social media posts they encountered less reliable and had more confidence in their ability to spot them. Most important, they were far less likely to share bogus information they found online. The positive effect was the same whether players identified as liberal or conservative.
Van der Linden and his colleagues developed Bad News, a disinformation simulator in which players use bogus tweets to gain followers, that has been translated into fifteen languages. They created Go Viral, a game to strengthen people’s resistance to pandemic misinformation, which is part of the British government and World Health Organization’s Stop the Spread campaign. The researchers are working with Facebook’s WhatsApp to distribute the games, and with YouTube on a pilot program to turn them into animated videos that would appear in the ad space when users click on a video flagged as harmful.
“People don’t like to be duped, so if you warn them in advance so they can defend themselves instead of approaching people and saying, ‘This is what you need to believe,’ they feel special and in the know,” van der Linden said of the games’ appeal to would-be conspiracists.
“These are purely prophylactic,” van der Linden told me. Unfortunately, “There’s no known intervention I know of that can essentially de-radicalize people who have become extremists.”
In hours of conversations with conspiracy theorists, including someone in his own family, van der Linden said he’s tried “pre-suasion,” a gateway to persuasion in which “you affirm and validate before you engage.”
With this family member, who no longer believes implausible conspiracy theories, van der Linden acknowledged that some conspiracy theories are real, then, after asking permission to express his point of view, offered some that seem obviously false.
“Autonomy and a sense of agency and power are important for a conspiracy theorist. So it’s a slow-burn approach—you need to go slow and take one step at a time.”
Even then, it often doesn’t work.
“Conspiracism is a monological belief system. If you convincingly say this part isn’t true, they come up with a bigger conspiracy that contains the smaller. They’re going to do everything they can to protect their worldview, even when they acknowledge your facts.”
Lenny calls this “the conspiracy blob”: people so armored against the intrusion of truth that they repurpose undeniable facts to embroider the original theory. We were talking about Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer and frequent Infowars guest who denied the existence of COVID-19 even as he died from it in August 2021. “We will never be the same because now we know that we’ve all been lied to about everything” were among Steele’s last words. “But, now we also know that we can trust each other.”
The conspiracists quickly adjusted. They claimed Steele had been murdered in the hospital as payback for his truth-telling. Lenny told me he died with Sandy Hook hoax material still on his website.
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Above provided by: Vinny, who always says: "I only regret that I have but one lap to give to my cats." AND "I'm a more-is-more person."
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