The Internet is dark and full of terrible sources of information. Sometimes it seems like every day brings a new one to the list. There are the toxic conspiracy theories, deepfakes, and fake news mills. And then there are good old-fashioned Internet hoaxes. You know the ones—the sort of fear-mongering, copypasta-esquewarnings that came in the form of cryptically bolded email chains a decade ago, and today dot the social media feeds of your friends and relatives.
Why do people believe what obviously is trash?
These sorts of hoaxes have staying power because of the peculiar way people process information and arrive at beliefs. When confronted with new information, humans don’t always do the logical thing and evaluate it on its own merits…instead, we often make snap decisions based on how the information adheres with our existing worldviews.
Blame it on the brain.