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Snippet of Unlocking Us: Brené on Ask Me Anything, Part 1 of 2

Last Played: February 08, 2021
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Occasionally Brené hosts an "ask me anything" segment to take recorded questions from listeners. As a noted academic, she calls on her background and personal experience to answer several everyday inquiries. In this snippet, a caller asks about the rise of "fake news." Listen as Brené sheds light on the research about confirmation bias and critical thinking, and the dangers of a culture of fear.
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and the first person we're gonna hear from is Jacob. Okay, here we are. Um, apart one. My name's Jacob, and I'm from Seattle. Washington. Hey, Bernays. So this might be too political of the question, but I'm gonna ask you anyway, So the rise of quote unquote fake news has created this strange situation where I feel like people feel empowered to choose what is and isn't true for them. And it seems like a lot of people automatically just believe whatever it is that makes them feel good. And they disbelieve whatever it is that goes against the preexisting narrative or what makes them not feel good. And this seems like an issue with emotional regulation mawr than an issue of being educated. But I do still think it's an issue of critical thinking. So, uh, given kind of how your work, it seems, is really focused on helping people with emotional regulation. I'm kind of just wondering, like, how do you think your work could actually be used in the fight against disinformation? What's interesting to me about Jacob's question is the answer to it is actually not controversial. But really, there's a lot of conflict about the answer. You know, why are we vulnerable to propaganda is away, I guess, to phrase it. That would be in line with how some cognitive psychologists, people who are really studying this would talk about it. They would talk about the vulnerability in the susceptibility thio misinformation. So there seems to be two camps in the research world. One camp says people are susceptible because it's kind of confirmation bias. They want information that proved their political opinions. They don't think critically. They just want confirmation of their own beliefs. So there's there's that camp looking for confirmation of their political righteousness. And then the other camp of researchers would say that it's, ah, lack of intellectual curiosity or a lack of skill, of critical thinking. So it's not that people are looking for confirmation of their beliefs, but they don't know how to challenge what they read, or they're not willing to challenge what they read because it takes a lot of effort. When I think about Jacob's question in the frame of my research, I have a different perspective that maybe I don't know, maybe pulls on both e lack of intellectual enquiry or critical thinking and the confirmation bias, just wanting to confirm what you already believe, which is in heightened times again, a reminder for those who haven't listened to another podcast where I've mentioned this. But I coincidentally started my research six months before 9 11. And so I've been watching how over the last 20 years how fear has changed us. How something that didn't exist in some ways now is a huge driver. You know, at least four majority population for, you know, for white, middle class, straight population that never never was accustomed to living with a constant layer of terror and film over our lives. Now, of course, if you are ah, black person or you are an immigrant or you are Muslim or you are in this country and our beliefs and our actions that are perpetuated by those beliefs cause usually live in terror, which we're seeing, we're seeing that clearly many people for the first time, 9 11 was not a new feeling, and in fact, I'll just tell you this is getting off your thing, Jacob. But it Z related. I was teaching in a graduate college of social work when 9 11 happened, and we had to have very, very difficulty conversations about race and violence and police brutality and living in fear. You know, on 9 12, basically because that experience of living in fear was so new to some people and so consistently traumatic for other people who not only lived in that fear but were raised by parents who were raised by parents who were raised by parents who raised by parents who raised by parents who lived in that fear and taught around the collective trauma. And you know what they call the talk? The talk that you have to give your Children when their existence, because of the color of their skin, their faith beliefs makes them unsafe. And so, no, What I would say is, after 9 11, there was a new level of collective trauma, and one thing that I saw which make things even more dangerous for people who are not in the majority culture of white, straight, Christian middle class was this phenomenon. And I write about a little bit and daring greatly of when people are afraid. If you can give them someone to blame for their fear and you can sell them the snake oil of certainty. In times of deep vulnerability and uncertainty, they will. We will consume and believe almost anything you tell us we are. You know, it's so funny. If there's all these questions, had one thing in common from white supremacy. Thio Jacobs Question about fake news. We don't know how to be in pain and uncertainty. We don't know how to be productive in our vulnerability and the many ways that we tap out of our pain in our fear is literally having Arnie on the throat of other people. And so when I think about my own, you know, I'm a I'm a I'm a critical thinker for a living and, you know, trained to think critically trained Thio pull apart every argument, including the ones I love and the ones that make me feel better and the ones I want to wrap around me like a blanket. When I'm in enough fear and I'm in enough scarcity, I will go down the my own version of fake news. Like, if I hear something the news like this blood type, you know, lessons, your chance of cove it or if you take this vitamin, I'm like Steve Steve will get this box of, like blood testing equipment and supplements. And he said, What's going on? I said, Well, I heard this news story and he said, Bernet, step back and I get it and spit, Step back for a minute, you know? So we're all susceptible to information that delivers us from pain and any news or information or proclamation or snake oil even that delivers us from uncertainty, Fear, pain, shame are smart, are going to be overridden by the human need to tap out of that. And so I think that's why when you listen to a lot of cable news, when you dissect it and you really listen to it, every news story has a blaming component. So from innocuous things that have nothing to do with people's choices sometimes. But you know, everything has. Here's what's happening. Here's why you should be afraid. And here's to blame and that scarcity culture and we're so deep in scarcity culture. Holy shit. I am in such deep scarcity culture around Cove it but scarcity culture I write this enduring greatly is you know you're in a scarcity culture when the conversation really hinges on what Should we be terrified or afraid of right now? And whose fault is it? And so, in scarcity culture, I make up that there's a huge correlation between fear and scarcity and pain and belief of.
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