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Jun 12, 2018

The Best of ‘The Writer’s Brain’ Part Five: Fake News

Welcome back to a special edition of The Writer Files called “The Best of the Writer s Brain,” a series neuroscientist Michael Grybko and I started in 2015 where I enlisted his help to give us a tour of the inner workings of the writer’s process. 

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This is Part Five of the series and a rebroadcast of the Fact vs. Fiction edition of “The Writer’s Brain,” in which we discuss fake news, how it works, why it’s damaging, and how to combat it.

As we wrap up our Summer hiatus before the upcoming season, I thought I d put all of these enlightening episodes in one place …

The Writer Files is a nonpartisan show in its attempt to explore all facets of the writing life, and in the last few months you can’t seem to throw a rock without hitting a social media article about fake news or alternative facts — especially on Twitter and Facebook.

Fake news isn’t new — some form of it has existed since the beginning of printed news, including examples by leaders of the American Revolution concocting stories to stoke the political engine (see: Benjamin Franklin or John Adams, historically) — but it seems to be on everyone’s mind now, especially since November, 2016.

Luckily research scientist Michael Grybko — of the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington — returned to the podcast to help me find some answers.

If you missed the first four episodes of The Best of ‘The Writer s Brain’ you can find them on, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

In this episode Michael Grybko and I discuss:

  • The problem with the proliferation of biased fake news in our social media feeds
  • Why people disregard evidence that is contrary to their strongly held beliefs
  • How your emotional state can change the way you react to information that challenges your beliefs
  • Why fake news works and the fallibility of our brains
  • How to combat fake news with your own analytical curiosity
  • Helpful tips to stop yourself from sharing false information
  • Why you need to do your homework

Show Notes: