More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts
Josh Pasek, University of Michigan
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Democratic News Consumption: The Ideal and the Reality
Notes taken on June 28, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
what do you need to know to be a good democratic citizen
you can't just know nothing
this will lead you to make sub-optimal democratic choices
democracy is essentially a combination of four things
1. people have the ability to vote or in some way make their voices heard
2. some kind of equal representation
3. non-tyranny measures which make sure majorities that build up do not coerce others
4. deliberation, discussion and debate
you can't just have people individually thinking in their own bubbles
what they need to be doing is engaging with others to figure out what's good for the society as a whole
involves discussion and dialogue
for this conversation to be substantive, citizens need to be informed
where does this information come from
news is central to the democratic process
news is the core way that individuals get information about what's happening in society, what needs to be addressed, what problems there are to deal with
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
a notion of the general will of the people
what it is that the people really want
you need a way for the government to determine what people want in their most informed state, since that is going to be the policy that will be ideal
we generally think of people behaving as what we call a Bayesian updater
someone who takes in information
considers how this information relates to what they already know
comes to a decision on what we should be doing
as you learn more, you should ideally update what you know in line with the new things you are learning
there are many personal and cultural aspects that impede our ability to act as Bayesian updaters
psychologically, this is not what we were designed to do
democracy was never a goal of evolution
what people end up doing in practice is not updating in a rational, Baysian way
they encounter a variety of pieces of information
they use low information shortcuts called heuristics
often use cues such as someone's partisanship, rather than the issue at hand
heuristics are also used when we shop at a supermarket
we buy the product we know
we buy the product which has the lettering which appeals to us
these are low information cues
they don't tell us much between the difference between product A and product B
but they help us a lot in making a decision quickly
if you are being a good news consumer
if you're being a Bayesian updater
when you encounter a story that doesn't seem entirely credible
you're going to go out and do extra work to figure the degree to which you can believe the story is accurate and why
and to make sure that you're no encountering something that happens to be inaccurate