January 3, 2012

Debunking Myths About Islam and the Muslim World (Part 6)

This is the sixth and last post in a series commenting about The Debunking Handbook from the perspective of debunking the myths about Islam and the Muslim world.

Anatomy of an Effective Debunking

This last section of the Debunking Handbook is a summary of how an essay or article exposing a myth should be written, section by section. The graphic below is the example given in the handbook, using a myth regarding global warming.

Bringing all the different threads together, an effective debunking requires:
• Core facts—a refutation should emphasize the facts, not the myth. Present only key facts to avoid an Overkill Backfire Effect;
• Explicit warnings—before any mention of a myth, text or visual cues should warn that the upcoming information is false;
• Alternative explanation—any gaps left by the debunking need to be filled. This may be achieved by providing an alternative causal explanation for why the myth is wrong and, optionally, why the misinformers promoted the myth in the first place;
• Graphics – core facts should be displayed graphically if possible.

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