DP12220 Facts, Alternative Facts, and Fact Checking in Times of Post-Truth Politics
|Author(s):||Oscar Barrera, Sergei Guriev, Emeric Henry, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya|
|Publication Date:||August 2017|
|Date Revised:||November 2018|
|Keyword(s):||alternative facts, elections, fact checking, fake news, voting|
|Programme Areas:||Public Economics, Development Economics|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12220|
How effective is fact checking in countervailing "alternative facts," i.e., misleading statements by politicians? In a randomized online experiment during the 2017 French presidential election campaign, we subjected subgroups of 2480 French voters to alt-facts by the extreme-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, and/or corresponding facts about the European refugee crisis from official sources. We find that: (i) alternative facts are highly persuasive; (ii) fact checking improves factual knowledge of voters (iii) but it does not affect policy conclusions or support for the candidate; (iv) exposure to facts alone also increases support for the candidate, even though voters update their knowledge.