In an era of online news reporting and misinformation, a new study by the Center for Informational Integrity revealed that a disturbing 98 percent of Americans believe whatever they read, but fortunately they don't read very much.
"It''s good news and bad news," summarized CII Director Glenn Keller. "It's certainly troubling that Americans overwhelmingly accept as true whatever they read in a newspaper or on a Web page, no matter how outlandish or unsubstantiated."
And what, exactly, is the good news?
"The significant mitigating factor," explained Keller, "is that the attention span of most Americans is so short that they read very little, and absorb even less. In other words, they don't actually comprehend enough to do much damage."
Americans do maintain a modicum of skepticism, he noted. "Unfortunately, though, that skepticism is generally limited to well-verified but upsetting information. For instance, people dismiss well-documented reports regarding global warming, factory farming, and government surveillance as 'fake news'."
So what's the answer to the information dilemma?
"The bottom line is that it's clear that reading is a highly problematic way for Americans to get their news," said Keller. "We'd encourage them to watch more television."