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The key to avoiding fake news -- ignore your gut

Ohio State researchers say people who trust their gut over data tend to believe fake news stories more often. (WSYX/WTTE)

Researchers at Ohio State believe they found the key to figuring out who is most susceptible to believing fake news -- people who instinctively trust their gut. Communication professors recently wrapped up a study looking at why people believe things they can't prove.

Professor Kelly Garrett has studied how the internet shapes what people believe. He said people who rely on data instead of their gut are far more accurate no matter what they believe politically.

"That's a really important and kind of encouraging story in a world where it seems everyone has an agenda in stating what they believe," Garrett said.

We tried out Garrett's study while talking to people in Downtown Columbus Thursday. We showed people an article about the US Treasury Department changing the face on the $20 bill from Andrew Jackson to Robert E. Lee. The story was fake but we didn't give that away. Some people were immediately skeptical.

"That's the first I've heard of it," said Kitrina Spencer. "Real News Now, the source is kind of questionable."

Other people thought there was a chance it could be true.

"It wouldn't I guess really bothers me," said Mitch Clark. "Twenty dollars is still $20. If I read it on the internet, I could see it being a little more believable."

Spencer said she likes to verify information before she takes it too seriously.

"The source is absolutely important," Spender said. "Then I usually try and cross reference to a different site that I trust."

Clark said he relies on his gut oftentimes.

"I trust my gut more so than anything else," Clark said.

There may be more information available than ever before but Garrett said that doesn't mean finding the truth is impossible.

"When you throw up your hands and you say we can't possibly know what's true, you're giving in," Garrett said. "You're allowing the disinformation to win and that's not something any of us should do because the truth is knowable."

Garrett said the best way to avoid believing fake news is to look for that information in another credible place before taking it too seriously.

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