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Products for grant FA-251744-17

FA-251744-17
Extra-Factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation in International Politics
Kelly Greenhill, Tufts University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-251744-17

Rumor Has It: The Adoption of Unverified Information in Conflict Zones (Article)
Title: Rumor Has It: The Adoption of Unverified Information in Conflict Zones
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill and Ben Oppenheim
Abstract: Rumors run rife in areas affected by political instability and conflict. Their adoption plays a key role in igniting many forms of violence, including riots, ethnic conflict, genocide, and war. While unverified at the time of transmission, some rumors are widely treated as truth, while others are dismissed as implausible or false. What factors lead individuals to embrace rumors and other forms of unverified information? This article presents a new theoretical framework for understanding individual receptivity to rumors and tests it using original survey data gathered in insurgency-affected areas of Thailand and the Philippines. We find wide variation in rumor adoption, and argue that three factors drive individuals to embrace rumors: worldview, threat perception, and prior exposure. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence that commonly cited factors—including education, income, age, and gender—determine individual receptivity to rumors. We also explore the implications of belief in rumors on conflict dynamics. We find that greater receptivity to rumors correlates with the belief that ongoing conflict is intractable. This suggests that rumors can not only help spark political violence, but also impede its resolution. Our findings shed light on the complex interaction between worldview and unverified information in shaping popular beliefs—and through them, political contention and competition—in conflict areas and beyond.
Year: 2017
Primary URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqx015
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Publisher: International Studies Quarterly

The Science of Fake News (Article)
Title: The Science of Fake News
Author: David Lazer, Matthew Baum, Yochai Benkler, Adam Berinsky, Kelly Greenhill, Filippo Menczer, et al.
Abstract: See journal upon publication in March 2018.
Year: 2018
Format: Journal
Publisher: Science

Faking the News (Article)
Title: Faking the News
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill (reported by Francis Storrs)
Abstract: Fake News and Alternative Facts are Nothing New. But Only by Understanding Their History Can We Diminish Their Disruptive Power
Year: 2017
Primary URL: https://tuftsmagazine.com/issues/magazine/2017/spring/faking-news
Format: Magazine
Publisher: Tufts Magazine

True Lies: Threat Conflation and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: True Lies: Threat Conflation and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Abstract: When uncertainty is high, and verifiable facts are inconvenient or few, how do individuals learn what to fear and how to respond to the threats they have identified? Coupling findings from recent breakthroughs in cognitive science and psychology with theoretical insights from political science, this paper presents a theory to explain how invented, embellished or simply unverified sources of security-related information can be strategically deployed to materially inform and influence public opinion as well as foreign and defense policy formulation and implementation. I show how, by exploiting inherent human cognitive, psychological and biological limitations and predispositions, enterprising actors both inside and outside governments—“merchants of menace,” if you will—can strategically and successfully employ EFI to transform vague, (often) inchoate, and sometimes remote, objective sources of anxiety into proximate, and even existentially menacing, albeit unverifiable, threats to domestic and/or international security. This transmutation happens through a process I call “threat conflation,” which is related to, but distinct from, its heretofore more thoroughly explored cousin “threat inflation.” The theory is then tested using the case of the decision-making process in the lead-up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq (and against the most plausible alternative explanations for the invasion).
Date Range: March 2017; April 2017
Location: Baltimore, MD; Clinton, NY

A Likely Story? The Effect of Information Source on the Credibility and Diffusion of Rumors in Conflict Areas (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: A Likely Story? The Effect of Information Source on the Credibility and Diffusion of Rumors in Conflict Areas
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Author: Ben Oppenheim
Abstract: Rumors are ubiquitous, and their adoption and diffusion have been linked to episodes of political instability, violence and the eruption of war. But not all rumors survive or proliferate, and only some of those that do are disseminated widely enough to influence patterns of collective violence. A critical type of filtering occurs at the individual level: individuals have to assess whether to accept or dismiss new information, and the plausibility and credibility of a rumor’s source are thought to be key factors in this decision-making process. Drawing upon original survey data from civil war affected areas in southern Thailand and the Philippines, this article examines where civilians turn to for information when verifiable facts are in short supply, and explores the impact of information source on the uptake and diffusion of rumors. Existing theories offer competing propositions about the relative importance of elites, the media and social and kinship networks in rumor uptake and diffusion. Our findings suggest that local elites can play a singular role: even though they may rarely be the primary source of unverified information, they are highly influential when they do spread a rumor, particularly one about which they might be expected to have inside knowledge.
Date Range: 2017-18

Combating Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Combating Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action
Author: See https://shorensteincenter.org/combating-fake-news-agenda-for-research/
Abstract: ecent shifts in the media ecosystem raise new concerns about the vulnerability of democratic societies to fake news and the public’s limited ability to contain it. Fake news as a form of misinformation benefits from the fast pace that information travels in today’s media ecosystem, in particular across social media platforms. An abundance of information sources online leads individuals to rely heavily on heuristics and social cues in order to determine the credibility of information and to shape their beliefs, which are in turn extremely difficult to correct or change. The relatively small, but constantly changing, number of sources that produce misinformation on social media offers both a challenge for real-time detection algorithms and a promise for more targeted socio-technical interventions.
Date Range: February-April 2017
Location: Cambridge and Boston, MA

Influence Operations and Society (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Influence Operations and Society
Abstract: N/A
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Date: 10/23/2017
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Three Tweets to Midnight: The Global Information Revolution and Nuclear Stability (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Three Tweets to Midnight: The Global Information Revolution and Nuclear Stability
Abstract: See https://www.stanleyfoundation.org/resources.cfm?id=1640
Author: Multiple participants
Date: 10/18/17
Location: Warrenton, VA
Primary URL: https://www.stanleyfoundation.org/resources.cfm?id=1640

Understanding the Psychology of Disinformation (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Understanding the Psychology of Disinformation
Abstract: N/A.
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Date: 9/26/17
Location: The Atlantic Council, Washington, DC

Information and Other Influence Operations (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Information and Other Influence Operations
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Abstract: Office of Net Assessment Meeting on Societal Warfare
Date Range: June 29, 2017
Location: Washington, DC

Combatting Fake News and Other Extra-factual Information (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Combatting Fake News and Other Extra-factual Information
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Abstract: Part of DOD's SMA Lecture/Seminar Series
Date Range: June 19, 2017
Location: Virtual/Washington, DC

Media and Authority in a ‘Post-truth’ World (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Media and Authority in a ‘Post-truth’ World
Abstract: Part of a panel presentation at the INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE’S TEN YEAR FORECAST MEETING
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Date: 5/5/17
Location: Alameda, CA

Merchants of Menace: Extra-factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Merchants of Menace: Extra-factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation
Abstract: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY’S INTERNATIONAL POLITICS SEMINAR
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Date: 4/27/17
Location: New York, NY

Extra-factual Information in Historical Perspective (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Extra-factual Information in Historical Perspective
Abstract: Speech given as part of COMBATTING FAKE NEWS: AN AGENDA FOR RESEARCH AND ACTION
Author: Kelly M. Greenhill
Date: 2/17/17
Location: Cambridge, MA


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