Cailin O'Connor

How, then, do people make sense of the flood of information they receive each day in the Internet era? In much the same way they always have: They rely fundamentally on trust, according to Cailin O’Connor, a philosopher [and professor] of [social] sciences at the University of California at Irvine. O’Connor, who uses mathematical models to study the spread of false beliefs, explained to me that people are likelier to believe new information from someone who is similar to them in terms of gender, race and political affiliation. This heuristic guides all sorts of decisions, such as the kinds of computer monitors people buy, what movies they watch and even who they vote for in elections. 

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