Misinformation Contagion: A View Through an Epidemiological Lens

In this episode, host Heather Issvoran interviews Scott Fenton (cohort 1803/1804) on his thesis, “Misinformation Contagion: A View Through an Epidemiological Lens.” Fenton, Captain with the Monterey County Regional Fire District, defines and explains how misinformation and disinformation can be viewed as a contagion.

Scott Fenton’s thesis abstract: “This thesis explores how we can better understand and address the proliferation of misinformation by viewing it through an epidemiological lens. To aid in this examination, the processes of cognitive bias will be explained as they relate to interventional opportunities to prevent contraction and spread, develop immunity, and treat the disease of misinformation. Recommendations focus on building individual and herd immunity to false narratives, reducing the virulence of these messages, and making online environments less conducive to the spread of misinformation. These steps require significant commitment to policies that will be difficult to achieve in a partisan and polarized sociopolitical environment, but they are necessary to support fact-based democratic discourse and decision-making.”

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