Santa Claus, UFOs, and Widespread Voter Fraud: Bayesian Gullibility and Disinformation from a High-Trust Source

12 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021

Date Written: March 15, 2021

Abstract

Disinformation may be an insoluble problem in many cases because belief in disinformation rests mostly on high trust in the information source and not on the plausibility of the information itself. I use a Bayesian framework to illustrate this problem and develop a simple notion of Bayesian gullibility, the ratio of the likelihood ratio to the prior odds on deception versus candor. The Bayesian framework suggests that efforts to counter disinformation should focus on a limited discrediting of the information source, since a general discrediting or a focus on the evidence in isolation is unlikely to sway the information consumer who has succumbed to a disinformation campaign by a high-trust information source.

Keywords: disinformation, gullibility, Bayesian analysis

Suggested Citation

Heaton, J.B., Santa Claus, UFOs, and Widespread Voter Fraud: Bayesian Gullibility and Disinformation from a High-Trust Source (March 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3804086 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3804086

J.B. Heaton (Contact Author)

One Hat Research LLC ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States
(312) 257-3900 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.onehatr.com/

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