from the world's big
An international study finds the vast majority of 15-year-olds can't tell when they're being manipulated.
- International reading tests administered in 79 countries find most teens to be gullible when consuming information.
- As learning has moved online, absolutely reliable sources have become scarce.
- Most teens can't detect the validity of supposed "facts" from contextual clues.
About OECD and the PISA survey<p>OECD stands for "Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development." It's an international organization that's dedicated to the identification and implementation of policies for tackling the world's social, economic, and environmental challenges. Thirty-six countries are members, and the impact of the group's work is felt in more than 100 countries. The OECD collects data and develops reports, including recommendations, for its worldwide audience.</p><p>The Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, is one such report. Subtitled, "What Students Know and Can Do," it's the product of reading, mathematics, and science tests administered to 15-year-olds in 79 countries. The focus in the 2018 tests was reading. The tests were given on computer screens in recognition that this is where most of today's teens do most of their reading.</p><p>The very best readers — better than in any other country — come from four provinces in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Though these areas are exceptional within the country, China overall still sits at the top of the list of the world's most advanced readers.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE0NDU4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzc0ODU5NX0.OW2EH4L-OrK96wcRTIUM8HpnWWgJA3YE5RxNK6O106w/img.jpg?width=980" id="22f94" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4c80d197734e9d50c2da7e4128e8b4f3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: boreala/Shutterstock/Big Think
Reading is one thing, understanding is another<p>The world, as the report notes, has changed. Reading used to be about the straightforward extraction and absorption of information from reliable sources. Not so for today's learners, says the report:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Today, they will find hundreds of thousands of answers to their questions online, and it is up to them to figure out what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong."</em></p><p>Alarmingly, the PISA research finds that less than 1 in 10 of students tested are "able to distinguish between fact and opinion, based on implicit cues pertaining to the content or source of the information."</p><p>Only in six nations did students do better than 1 in 7 at successfully identifying actual facts — China, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Singapore, and the United States.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE0NDU4Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0OTE4N30._1XooNgrARWHPePwl9WvV3u0CxVgn1Xg1CvipDiPS38/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e93b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="523051799ba2e56d5a284e22df75037b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: OECD
Proficiencies<p>The report summarizes reading proficiency by focusing on two of the six-levels in their reading skill assessment scale.</p><p>At Level 2, "students are able to identify the main idea in a text of moderate length, find information based on explicit, though sometimes complex, criteria, and reflect on the purpose and form of texts when explicitly directed to do so." About 77 percent of students on average achieved Level 2 proficiency.</p><p>The best readers, comprising just 8.7 percent of the tested teens, performed at Levels 5 or 6 where "students are able to comprehend lengthy texts, deal with concepts that are abstract or counterintuitive, and establish distinctions between fact and opinion, based on implicit cues pertaining to the content or source of the information."</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE0NDU4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMTM5OTA1Mn0.sBqjfHKaAiDgprtB8Shk4yE_d457Hh50yLvCkSkiOP4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=83%2C103%2C268%2C244&height=700" id="9a360" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="eeda97c189d5085dc4bfc3cbd73ecbfe" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: fizkes/Shutterstock
Hope in AI<p>The authors of the PISA report see promise in the leveraging of A.I. for helping young people develop a stronger sense of context that would allow them to more accurately assess informational sources.</p><p>They suggest "we need to think harder about how to develop first-class humans, and how we can pair the A.I. of computers with the cognitive, social and emotional skills, and values of people." They do note with caution that A.I. itself is ethically neutral while the humans who program it are typically not. This is one of the concerns being studied for the OECD's upcoming Education 2030 project.</p><p>Overall, the PISA findings serve as clear notice that we need to be smarter about teaching. "That is why education in the future is not just about teaching people, but also about helping them develop a reliable compass to navigate an increasingly complex, ambiguous, and volatile world.</p>
A large new study uses an online game to inoculate people against fake news.
- Researchers from the University of Cambridge use an online game to inoculate people against fake news.
- The study sample included 15,000 players.
- The scientists hope to use such tactics to protect whole societies against disinformation.
Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="YXfNZslk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c37a79c8ee5c96749923fe44c2549f2c"> <div id="botr_YXfNZslk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/YXfNZslk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/YXfNZslk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/YXfNZslk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> None
The truth is a messy business, but an information revolution is coming. Danny Hillis and Peter Hopkins discuss knowledge, fake news and disruption at NeueHouse in Manhattan.
- In 2005, Danny Hillis co-founded Freebase, an open-source knowledge database that was acquired by Google in 2010. Freebase formed the foundation of Google's famous Knowledge Graph, which enhances its search engine results and powers Google Assistant and Google Home.
- Hillis is now building The Underlay, a new knowledge database and future search engine app that is meant to serve the common good rather than private enterprise. He calls it his "penance for having sold the other one to Google."
- Powerful collections of machine-readable knowledge are becoming exceedingly important, but most are privatized and serve commercial goals.
- Decentralizing knowledge and making information provenance transparent will be a revolution in the so-called "post-truth age". The Underlay is being developed at MIT by Danny Hillis, SJ Klein, Travis Rich.
Pope Francis’ 2018 World Communications Day message explains the dangers of fake news and what journalists and the public must do to combat it.
In his message for 2018 World Communications Day, Pope Francis rallied to the defense of journalism—if not the news media—comparing fake news to the snake in the Garden of Eden for its misleading, destructive power. This is a valuable, clear-eyed message for anyone, regardless of belief system. And to be clear, the pope’s not talking about fake news as defined in White House press briefings or presidential tweets. He has something very different—nearly the opposite—in mind:
Here's why your brain’s biases are a win for fake news, and a pay day for Facebook.
Even if you think of yourself as a human lie detector, there are some untruths that will sneak under the hood. For that, you can thank your brain, and it's absolute adoration for all things familiar, says Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic. One of the oldest findings in psychology history is the 'mere exposure effect', in which merely being exposed to something makes you biased toward it—parents influence their children by playing certain music around the house that they will love their whole lives, or they instill a political preference in them from an early age. You are drawn to what you know, and that bias really matters when it comes to digital media and the fake news phenomenon. Once something becomes memorable, we tend to conflate familiarity with fact. "This is one of the big reasons why it’s difficult to myth-bust on television or myth-bust in journalism, because sometimes the mere repetition of that myth biases audiences toward thinking that it’s true..." says Thompson. "The mere exposure of news to us biases us toward thinking that that news item is true." Facebook has an enormous ethical responsibility in this, he says, because it is the world's largest and most influential news outlet—whether it intended to be or not. Thompson believes there is no algorithmic fix for fake news that spreads via Facebook, only a human one: "The answer to a problem of a lack of human ethics in information markets is the introduction of more humans and more ethics," he says. Derek Thompson's latest book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.