Psychology & Post-truth: Confirmation Bias

Cognitive Miser Quiz

These are all questions that you have the information to answer. However, you will have a limited time to answer these. This is to illustrate how your brain works, not to test your knowledge. Do the best you can. Don’t answer “I don’t know.” Give it a guess.

  1. Some months have 31 days, and some months have 30 days. How many months have 28 days?
  2. Do they have the fourth of July in England?
  3. How many of each kind of animals did Moses take on the the ark?
  4. If a plane crashes on the border of Mexico and the United States, where will the survivors be buried?
  5. If a rooster lays an egg on the peak of a roof, which direction (right or left) will the egg roll?
  6. Which side of the chicken has the most feathers?
  7. Can a California man legally marry his widow’s sister?
  8. What four words appear on every US coin besides “In God We Trust?”
  9. How many cubic feet of dirt are in a hole 1 foot deep, 3 feet long, and 2 feet wide?
  10. Cincinnati is a big word. Can you spell it with one “i”?

More info on the concept of the cognitive miser can be found here. I also have to thank Dr. Tiffany Sia for this activity!

Doing more with hypothes.is

Toward the end of “This Article Won’t Change Your Mind” Julie Beck notes that while it can be difficult to change people’s minds with facts if they are firm in their values and beliefs, groups can have a profound influence on how open-minded people can be. That said, she also notes that groups are not particularly effective if everyone agrees with each other. This is major reason why social annotation can be an effective way to read in a post-truth moment.

Y’all did a really nice job with all of the roles in this document. I saw trackers, swimmers, rankers, lexicographers, and teachers. What roles did you try and did they help you consider how annotation is performative? Did social annotation help you read better? How do you know? If not, what annotation strategy would you prefer for web based research?

Separating the wheat from the chaff

While hypothes.is is helpful for discussing and collectively annotating a webtext, it can get a bit chaotic. Like all annotations, they are just one step in the writing process; to make these notations work for your writing, you’d have to distill and prioritize them. Put another way, you have to revisit them again and again based on your writing goals to really understand how you could put them to use.

That said, there is one feature that might be able to help us sort the wheat from the chaff, to separate the more meaningful moments in the text from the small ones.

Activity: Scroll along the group’s annotation of Beck and see if you can locate a money quote based on the swarm of comments (indicated by the numbers in the scroll bar). Once you find a swarm copy + paste it into a private Google Doc. Then:

1. Explain what is happening at that point in the essay and why one or more folks there found that moment or quote meaningful. You can summarize or paraphrase their sentiments, but also feel free to quote and attribute their words (“jwluther responded by suggesting…”)
2. Then raise a question, draft a brief response, pose an objection or a passionate agreement about this moment. This is your chance to put these voices in dialogue, including yours.
4. Once you are finished, paste this into the appropriate class doc as a coherent ¶:

Sec 2/9:30 a.m.
Sec 3/12:30 p.m.


Homework for next class

Read and annotate Part 2 of the “Dead Reckoning: Navigating Content Moderation After Fake News” pdf we read at the start of the semester (Part 2 starts on page 16).

Use hypothes.is to add 3-5 annotations, aiming to balance your timing (that is, first to the document ⇆ last to the document) with the above list of possible ways you might contribute. In addition to the marker, swimmer, ranker, lexicographer, and teacher roles above you can also:

  • Ask direct questions (for instructors or classmates)
  • Point to internal connections (draw lines within the text)
  • Point to external connections (embed or link to related texts we’ve discussed)
  • Share news stories (events that speak to or are spoken to by the readings)
  • Research and point to related scholarship (other courses taken or projects undertaken)
  • Make connection to related art or art forms (poetry, literature, film, music)