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how can i reflect

on my bias when investigating

civic issues?

Activity #2: Why Do Our Brains Love “Fake News”?

(30-45 min)


Ask students to watch the following KQED video -- “Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News?” In this video, host Myles Bess shares some key research on why our brains can so easily make us believe that “fake news” is real.

While students watch (or after watching) you can ask them to fill out the video column of the following chart:

After watching the video, you can also review these points with students outlined by KQED:


“Ever have an argument with someone, and no matter how many facts you provide, you just can’t get

that person to see it your way? One big reason for this is cognitive bias, which is a limitation in our thinking that can cause flaws in our judgement. Confirmation bias is a certain type of cognitive bias that motivates us to seek out information we already believe and ignore or minimize facts that threaten what we believe.


So if we can’t use facts to defeat confirmation bias, what else can we do? The first step is to recognize that when it comes to your own beliefs, you have this bias, too. It’s also important to recognize that you may not fully understand something as well as you think you do. When it comes to controversial topics, researching the other side of the issue may make you realize that YOUR understanding of the issue might be incomplete.”


(For more background on using the Above the Noise videos in your classroom visit KQED’s new Classroom Guide.)

Next, have students read and analyze the following infographic based on a recent study of approximately 2,000 youth nationwide: Civics in a Partisan Age: Media Literacy and the Challenge of Misinformation. Kahne & Bowyer found that: “Even when presented with a grossly inaccurate statement, a clear majority of youth [58 percent] in the ... survey agreed that the statement was accurate when those claims were used to support perspectives that aligned with their ideological perspective.”

Based on their review of the video and the infographic, ask students to get into small groups to discuss their thoughts in responses to the questions. In their small groups, you could ask students to let each person go around and share about Question #1 from the chart before openly discussing it so everyone has a chance to speak first. They could then repeat the same process for the other questions.


After 10-15 minutes of discussion, ask for students from each group to share out the top ideas they discussed. (If you did the activities above related to Credibility, then you can encourage students to draw on the ideas they generated before as well about how to judge the credibility of online information.)

Click here to download this exercise as a PDF.


Extension Ideas:


If you would like students to explore this topic further, you could ask them to pick an issue about which they have strongly held beliefs. You can survey the class and then group students by topics or have students work individually. Ask students to write/reflect on their beliefs on the issue. Then ask students to research the opposing viewpoint and summarize what the other side believes and why they believe what they believe.

For more ideas, you can also draw on this lesson - DIY Toolkit: Introduction To Fact-Checking For Journalists developed by Youth Radio. They share fact-checking strategies and considerations that journalists rely on when working to ensure their news stories are accurate.

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