Fake news and unfunded beliefs in the post-truth age

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Víctor Castillo-Riquelme https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9190-9353
Patricio Hermosilla-Urrea https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3976-9039
Juan P. Poblete-Tiznado https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5193-4394
Christian Durán-Anabalón https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5990-1036


The dissemination of fake news embodies a pressing problem for democracy that is exacerbated by theubiquity of information available on the Internet and by the exploitation of those who, appealing to theemotionality of audiences, have capitalized on the injection of falsehoods into the social fabric. In thisstudy, through a cross-sectional, correlational and non-experimental design, the relationship betweencredibility in the face of fake news and some types of dysfunctional thoughts was explored in a sampleof Chilean university students. The results reveal that greater credibility in fake news is associated withhigher scores of magical, esoteric and naively optimistic thinking, beliefs that would be the meetingpoint for a series of cognitive biases that operate in the processing of information. The highest correlationis found with the paranormal beliefs facet and, particularly, with ideas about the laws of mentalattraction, telepathy and clairvoyance. Significant differences were also found in credibility in fake newsas a function of the gender of the participants, with the female gender scoring higher on average thanthe male gender. These findings highlight the need to promote critical thinking, skepticism and scientificattitude in all segments of society.
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