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Fake news could cause false memories, study finds

Posted at 8:14 PM, Aug 22, 2019

A study released this week indicates that seeing a fake news story can cause readers to have false memories. The study was conducted by the University of California, Irvine.

The researchers warn that fake news could have a sizable impact on elections.

The researchers used six news stories, four real and two fake, involving last year's Irish referendum on abortion legalization. The researchers presented these news stories to voters.

The study found that nearly half of the respondents were able to recall fake information, sometimes in vivid detail. Those who supported the referendum were more likely to remember a falsehood about those in opposition; those in opposition to the referendum were also more like to remember a falsehood about referendum supporters.

Many participants didn't reconsider when being told some of the information was in correct.

Researchers say that believing false information is simply part of human nature.

“To some degree this is unavoidable," Cailin O'Connor, UC Irvine Associate Professor in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, said. "False beliefs are part of the human condition. It is sometimes very hard to figure out the truth given the nature of evidence.”

Click here for more info on the study.