On the twitter this evening, I stumbled across a fascinating paper (pdf) from a couple of years ago by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler documenting problems that can ensue when journalists try to debunk bunk that has an ideological component:
Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a ‘‘back?re effect’’ in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.
Given the amount of bunk loose in the wild, this sometimes feels to me like an intractable problem. When I tweeted the link, Nyhan helpfully pointed me to this (also pdf) which offers some science-based suggestions journalists might use to combat the problem. Among them, charts and graphs!