Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

What Can Fake News, Politics, and Religion Tell Us About Pseudoscience?
David J. Therriault, Brian A. Zaboski, and Anastasia Jankovsky

News consumption and the media landscape have fundamentally changed over the last decade. These changes exacerbate concerns surrounding the proliferation of misinformation, particularly fake news. Most researchers consider fake news misinformation that disguises itself as legitimate news, which we liken to another form of misinformation, pseudoscience, that spreads falsehoods by appropriating the legitimacy of science. We investigated the influence of religious identity, political ideology, and open-mindedness on pseudoscientific and paranormal beliefs. We predicted that increased belief in religiosity and political identity would contribute to stronger beliefs in pseudoscience and the paranormal. Results revealed that belief in the paranormal was significantly higher for religious undergraduates compared to their non-religious peers, but that the relationships between political ideology and pseudoscience are much more complex. In sum, our results support further exploring changing risk factors based upon individual differences and the type of misinformation to aid in combating both fake news and pseudoscience.

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