The advent of “Fake News” means that we are currently going through a major phase in history. Fake news has come to dominate the news, literally. It is sometimes amusing, but most often frightening. Social media is the prime vehicle of distribution and it is very easy to be deceived by a combination of fake news, misleading ads and filter bubbles as you go through your feed.
As such, this topic deserves a lot more attention. Even though through various political earthquakes in recent years, we have been aware of the detrimental effects of this new phenomenon, not a lot has been done to mitigate it. We are still very susceptible to deception. There has been some pressure on technology companies to conform and do something about the prevalence of fake news, which is good, but if we follow the money, we cannot expect much change anytime soon. The other way to approach this is to train ourselves to become more resistant in accepting and believing everything we read online. We must harden ourselves to manipulation.
The ability to question anything and everything, and develop independent thinking is fundamental in saving us from fake news, fake science, pseudo-science, religious preaching, desire-inducing marketing in things we don’t need, cult hysteria or belief in instantaneous combustion! We need to harden ourselves and our minds against random bits of unconfirmed news, unchecked sources, persuasive rants and unverified claims. This requires training.
This exercise is an opportunity to help us question everything by having an attempt in creating fake news in a controlled environment and see how others react to it.
You can also use the exercise presented here for creative writing and team building. There is a certain amount of humour involved in everything fake and this exercise can help bring people together through humour. It can also be educational in that people can learn about some really weird stuff they had no idea about, so long as they can be convinced of them with valid references; this is the whole point of the exercise after all—to question everything.
This exercise is also ideal for younger people who are susceptible to manipulation due to lack of knowledge. See the Variations at the end on how to adjust the exercise to suit your specific training needs.