Reboot in the News

A compilation of Reboot op-eds and citations of our research from around the web.

David Bosso at Education Post

Teachers often tell their students that there is no such thing as a bad question. It’s true of course—students should never be embarrassed to ask a question. At the same time, however, it is possible to learn to ask better questions.

Unfortunately, questioning is a skill that is not emphasized enough in classrooms. Indeed, one of the pillars of critical thinking—a set of skills that is more valuable now than ever—is the capacity to formulate and ask questions. 

Meha Ahmad at WBEZ, NPR Chicago

Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have ramped up efforts to combat misinformation surrounding the election. Is it too little, too late?

Reset checks in with two experts.

• Sheera Frenkel, New York Times reporter on cybersecurity

• Helen Lee Bouygues, a misinformation expert and President of the Paris-based Reboot Foundation

Mariel Padilla in The19th

Since the internet’s advent, conspiracy theories have acquired followings online. Now, in the era of social media, people use platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread disinformation and misinformation. Instagram, the Facebook-owned image platform where influencers tout luxury, beauty and consumer culture, has also become an online home for conspiracies. And lately, one has been particularly prolific: QAnon.

Cheryl Mercedes at KHOU 11

Social media has become the information highway for so many people, but not everything is paved with the truth.

A new study found some age groups are more inclined to believe and share misinformation.

The posts pop up on social media news feeds constantly. Claims that you, “Need to affix two stamps to your absentee ballot to make sure it gets delivered;” “Lawmakers are trying to sneak in a bill that would raise taxes on guns and ammo;” “FEMA has authorized a $2800.00 check for hazard pay!”

Editorial Board in the Star Tribune

Deploying disinformation as well as other asymmetric tactics, Russia attacked America’s 2016 election. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” according to a 2017 report from the director of national intelligence.

News Literacy Project in the Washington Post

Two new studies tap into the growing interest in generational differences when it comes to misinformation savvy. The big takeaway? While it’s easy to blame others for spreading so-called fake news, young and old alike struggle to navigate today’s tangled information landscape.

A report from the Reboot Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes critical thinking, examines the online behaviors of 150 respondents across two age groups: those 60 and older, and younger adults ages 18 to 30. The study paints a nuanced picture of how age might impact a person’s ability to shun clickbait, recognize legitimate news headlines and assess the credibility of websites.

Elisabeth H. Daugherty in Princeton Alumni Weekly

When Helen Lee Bouygues ’95’s daughter needed to research King Francis for a school project, the 7-year-old didn’t turn to either of the two books about him sitting right in her room. 

She asked to borrow a computer and went straight to Wikipedia.

“That got me thinking about how children gather information,” says Bouygues. “For her, it was about expediency and being faster, but that has implications around how children learn.”

Helen Lee Bouygues in RealClearPolicy

Nobody likes to think they’re an easy mark for fake news. People don’t want to believe that they can be duped. But it turns out that Americans are far too confident about their Internet skills. 

New research from our team suggests only 1 percent of Americans know how to truly identify a fake news website, and many don’t often take the extra steps to ensure the information they are reading and sharing is credible.

Helen Lee Bouygues in The 74

As schools around the world have transitioned to online education during the COVID-19 crisis, many are reporting frustration. One Israeli mother captured the anger of many in a video when she said, “If we don’t die of corona, we’ll die of distance learning.”

Helen Lee Bouygues in The New York Daily News

It’s not news that social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be hotbeds of rumor and misinformation. Spend anytime online, and there’s a friend of a friend retweeting some implausible bit of Kardashian news.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is showing that information on social media is particularly unreliable, a crapshoot of so-called advice that can have disastrous effects on public health. 

Nicol Turner Lee in in the Brookings Institution 

Schools have historically been the beneficiaries of public and private sector investments in digital infrastructure, programs, and other resources. Funding has been primarily directed at in-school internet connectivity, after school programs and a wide range of related activities, including teacher professional development, e-books, and on-site computer labs. 

Esther J. Cepeda in the San Antonio Express News

My son, his best friend, Dave, and I were chatting over a pizza last weekend when Dave dropped some (absolutely incorrect) information: The elderly are forgoing nursing homes for cruise ships, because the room and board cost about the same, plus you get entertainment and travel.

Helen Lee Bouygues in EDU (Scholastic)

When it comes to reasoning, kids can surprise us. They ask penetrating questions that seem to come out of thin air. But this kind of progress in reasoning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. 

To develop reasoning skills, children require the right kind of environment and support from schools, teachers, and parents, as well as the right kinds of challenges, discussions, and even arguments.

Shamane Mills in WPR.org (Wisconsin Public Radio)

Schools in Wisconsin and across the country have invested a lot in technology, and new research is questioning how effective it is in teaching kids to read.

A study done by a think-tank that examines learning in a digital age found Wisconsin fourth graders who used tablets in most classes had reading scores nine points lower on a standardized test than those who didn’t use tablets in class. 

Martha Dalton in WABE.org (NPR Atlanta) 

My son, his best friend, Dave, and I were chatting over a pizza last weekend when Dave dropped some (absolutely incorrect) information: The elderly are forgoing nursing homes for cruise ships, because the room and board cost about the same, plus you get entertainment and travel.

Helen Lee Bouygues in Education Post

Our public square isn’t what it used to be. But, if schools lead the way, media literacy education can help us rebuild civic society.

If the damage to public discourse wasn’t clear already, the recent controversy over political advertising on social media platforms surely drove the point home. While Twitter’s Jack Dorsey announced a ban on such advertising, Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s decision to keep hosting political ads without subjecting it to rigorous fact-checking.

Helen Lee Bouygues in Newsweek

Fake news is back in the real news. A study released this month found that the 100 most widely shared fake news stories of the year had received an estimated 158.9 million Facebook views between January and October. The European Union recently scolded social media giants, demanding they do more to combat fabricated content, and Mark Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook has caught Russian and Iranian bot-nets aimed at interfering in the 2020 U.S. elections

Jay Mathews in the Washington Post

My son, Joe, and his wife have three sons, ages 10, 8 and 5. Like many parents, they are trying to limit the time the boys spend staring at computer screens. Their California school system and the state are making that difficult.

Helen Lee Bouygues in Harvard Business Review

Too many business leaders are simply not reasoning through pressing issues, taking the time to evaluate a topic from all sides. Leaders often jump to the first conclusion, whatever the evidence. Even worse, C-suite leaders will just choose the evidence that supports their prior beliefs. A lack of metacognition — or thinking about thinking — is also a major driver, making people simply overconfident. This article defines three simple things that can be done at work or in daily life to improve critical thinking skills.

Sean Braswell in OZY

There’s a lot to feel guilty about these days as a parent: working too much to spend time with your children; feeding the aforementioned children a steady diet of pizza, peanut butter sandwiches and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish; ruining everyone else’s plane ride. Perhaps no source of parental guilt, however, gets more attention these days — when it can get our attention, that is — than the overuse of electronic devices.

Sean Braswell in OZY

Over the past year, Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies have ramped up efforts to purge their platforms of accounts spreading fake news, conspiracy theories and other untruths across the internet. But the democratization of the media and the expansion of social media in recent years is placing an increasing burden on us, the consumers of this avalanche of news and information, to do a better job of discerning fact from fiction.

Helen Lee Bouygues in the Hechinger Report

Young people are tomorrow’s news creators and news consumers, and will soon make future-shaping decisions based on what they believe to be true. High school students are also teenagers, though, and while they may be technologically savvy, they are often psychologically unsophisticated and eager to be part of a cause or group — making them easy marks for the purveyors of misinformation. Newseum has created an in-person and online course for fighting fake news – developed for teenagers, by teenagers.

 Jenny Anderson in Quartz

Critical thinking can feel in short supply these days. Politics is more polarized than ever, the president regularly dismisses his opposition as enemies, losers, or phonies, while critics of the president cannot bear the thought of ever entertaining support for his ideas or actions.

Benjamin Wermund in Politico

A new study from the Reboot Foundation shows that while the vast majority of adults believe that critical thinking is important, very few actually employ critical thinking skills when reading or researching online.

Helen Lee Bouygues in The 74

How I Decide, an educational nonprofit has created a series of three- to four-minute-long videos, each of which addresses a concept related to critical thinking to help high school students make smarter decisions. Available online, these videos teach students how to evaluate information, understand probability, and resist cognitive biases. The founders of the How I Decide program have grasped a key element of critical thinking: Students must be taught how to identify the weaknesses in others’ arguments as well as in their own thinking.

Helen Lee Bouygues in Education Post

There’s a growing premium on critical thinking. The skill of robust reasoning is increasingly crucial for work—and a successful life. People who know how to think logically, analyze and draw conclusions make better choices. According to researcher Heather Butler, good critical thinkers are less likely to foreclose on a home or carry large credit card balances.