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Combating Rumors about the Ground Zero Mosque

- November 19, 2010

bq. “Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam backing the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque, is a terrorist?sympathizer who refuses to condemn Islamic attacks on civilians.”

That is the rumor that Erik Nisbet and Kelly Garrett sought to combat in some “new research”:http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/mosquetwo.htm (see also “this pdf”:http://www.comm.ohio-state.edu/kgarrett/FactcheckMosqueRumors.pdf), kindly sent to me by Nisbet. They find:

bq. Overall, only 35% of participants who had encountered the rumor before and believed it held more accurate beliefs after reading the rebuttal, and even fewer, about 28%, were moved to reject the rumor.

And this:

bq. Both a simple text?only rebuttal and the same rebuttal paired with an image of the Imam dress in Western?style business clothing contributed to more accurate beliefs.

They did not find any evidence that attempting to correct the rumor created a backlash:

bq. Rumor beliefs were not driven up by either (1) a rebuttal that visually highlighted the ways in which the Imam’s cultural background makes him different from most Americans, or (2) a rebuttal that emphasized that he holds viewpoints that some Americans would find objectionable.

See also their “earlier study”:http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/mosqueone.htm on the prevalence of belief in rumors about the mosque, and how those beliefs are correlated with self-reported exposure to news outlets.

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