Everyone talks about the gruesome effect of the false news that motivated the armed man to burst into the restaurant and shoot weapon because he wanted to ‘self-investigate’ news.
It would be neat to think that this is a lone case. But it is not.
I took police data from Portland, offered in Crime challenge, and decided to see how did those data reflect the major national news.
Sadly, I’ve seen an effect. I’ve taken data for the bomb threats spanning the time period from 2012 to 2016, and as you can see in the graph, there is a visible increase in reports just after Boston bombing.
We, humans, do statistic automatically, based on the information we collect during the day. When you have news reporting over and over again about the flashy, scary event, we will be caught in the trap of the confirmation bias, assuming that such events are more probable and more likely to happen. And fear caused by that confirmation bias will make us see things that are not there.
See, we know that there was no bomb in Portland. Boy, if it were, it would be all over the news. But I would not be surprised that after April 15th, 2013 there was a significant increase in reports of the bombs all around the US.
It took false news epidemic in 2016 for us to start dwelling on this issue. I personally have no idea what solution is, but if you do not wish to be a victim of the confirmation bias, I would recommend you to take a look at the data, the whole data, not just one little tiny part of it. And this should include news as well.