Misinformation vs. disinformation: a battle for better research and policies

Ryan Calo, Chris Coward, Emma S. Spiro, Kate Starbird, and Jevin D. West wrote a piece for Science Advances journal about the difference between misinformation and disinformation and how understanding the distinction will improve and expand policy-making and research:

The pandemic was planned. Climate change is a hoax. Joe Biden lost the election.

Trying to navigate misinformation about COVID, climate change, politics, and countless other topics can be overwhelming. This is true for the public, researchers, journalists, and policy-makers alike. As researchers dedicated to the study and resistance of misinformation, we often find ourselves in conversation with government officials and others trying to understand and address the phenomenon. To help illuminate the complexities of misinformation and to guide policy, we find three distinctions helpful: misinformation versus disinformation, speech versus action, and mistaken belief versus conviction (Fig. 1). Failing to appreciate these distinctions can lead to unproductive dead ends; understanding them is the first step toward recognizing misinformation and hopefully addressing it.

Everyone goes on about freedom of speech but when it comes to harmful propaganda (and there’s been a lot in the last few years), who is really free and who is really trapped in that cacophony of hate? Misinformation plays a significant role in COVID-19 vaccination rates—it could be a lot higher if not for rumours and incorrect reports about what’s in them. There are, of course, other factors such as distrust amongst Black populations due to systemic racism in science and medicine, but little has been done to combat that.

The final key distinction relates to the nature of belief itself, specifically, the difference between a mistaken belief and a conviction. We recognize that the distinction between belief and behavior is a subject of enduring interest in the social sciences. Indeed, one of our team’s primary research questions examines how exposure to misinformation translates into both belief and behavior. Yet, the distinction between beliefs held out of mistake and beliefs held out of conviction remains undertheorized in both the research literature and within policy circles.

Vaccine hesitation offers a strong example of this distinction (45). Misinformation abounds, but we know that some people sincerely believe that vaccines are more harmful than helpful and oppose them on this basis. At the same time, it is possible that misinformation spread during the COVID-19 pandemic, like many of the claims in the Plandemic video, could recruit people that are not necessarily dogmatic in their views of vaccines initially but instead convinced by the falsehoods and persuasive storytelling.

D&D moral alignments of One Tree Hill characters

I was a huge One Tree Hill fan until Lucas and Peyton (played by Hilarie Burton) left (although the Brooke and Julian story arc was good). A few days ago, Screen Rant published a list of D&D moral alignments for 10 of its main characters and I’m not 100% they’re accurate.

In case you don’t know what a D&D moral alignment is, it’s a way to categorise a character based on their morals and ethics based on Dungeons & Dragons. There are 2 axes split into 3 to make a matrix 9 different alignments:

LawfulNeutralChaotic
GoodLawful GoodNeutral GoodChaotic Good
NeutralLawful NeutralTrue NeutralChaotic Neutral
EvilLawful EvilNeutral EvilChaotic Evil
The D&D alignment matrix

From the original list, the obvious ones are right — Haley and Dan on either side of the good/evil spectrum (respectively of course) but it starts to fall off with Peyton’s alignment: chaotic neutral. Chaotic, yes (very) but neutral? She’s much closer to good than evil and given the crap she had to go through in her life (mum dying, almost bleeding to death, dealing with her undying love for Lucas who messed her around a million times, her fake brother-turned-maniacal stalker), she did pretty well to keep it all together and live happily ever after.

And as for Nathan being chaotic good, he only turned good at the end. He was very much Dan’s son for the first few seasons and he was pretty shitty to Haley for that time and after his accident in Season 5. Oh, and the rivalry with Lucas. For me, that characteristic selfishness brings it to at least neutral.

(UDPATE: Upon further consideration, I think chaotic good is right. A lot of his shitty behaviour was down to his manipulative father and Haley really brought out the goodness in him.)

A couple of characters are unaligned including Brooke and Mouth. Brooke was very much the bitchy cheerleader but she was very loyal and caring and she got through the story arc with her mother with her head held high and coped with Julian and his issues in the last couple of seasons. She deserves at least a Neutral Good in my opinion. And Mouth should be up with Haley in Lawful Good as far as I’m concerned. He was a good guy (but not a Nice Guy™️).

And finally Lucas Scott as Lawful Good. Now, I’m biased because I feel he mistreated Peyton (and Brooke) throughout the show and that brings it down to neutral for me. I know the show was primarily about him being the archetypal protagonist who could write and play basketball really well (arguably better than Nathan) and also have feelings but his treatment of his two main love interests on the show can’t be ignored for the sake of the narrative.

There were other characters mentioned like Quinn and Clay but I barely remember them and to be honest, their story arc was boring.