One of the enduring problems posed by Plato's analogy of the cave is that if we are all inside the cave seeing shadows instead of reality, how do we assess new claims presented to us about what's true and what's not? Does [fill in the blank] really cure arthritis? Is [fill in the blank] really a good investment? Is [fill in the blank] really running a sex ring out of a local pizza place?
A new study by the Stanford History Education Group finds that even those who have grown up immersed in online information -- middle school, high school, and college students -- have a dismal track record when it comes to being able to identify real news from fake news and news from advertising. To read more about the study, including a link to the executive summary, see ed.stanford.edu/news/stanford-researchers-find-students-have-trouble-judging-credibility-information-online.
Plato thought people with "real" knowledge would not be believed by those accustomed to living in the shadows of the cave. He underestimated how open we have become to believing all sorts of things. The Stanford study is a teachable moment: talk with your kids -- and your parents -- about how to evaluate the credibility of new "information," including online information. (If I had a dollar for every time a student told me, "But Google said....")
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