What Works to Build Mental Immunity

A Research-Based Toolbox for Educators and Learners

Research points to dozens of things we can do to cultivate mental immunity, browse to learn more below!
Modules are released weekly on Substack – mentalimmunityproject.substack.com – before being added here.

This is the use of the “mental immune system” analogy to help us understand and improve our thinking.

Mental Immunity Framing

The mental immunity framework encourages students to grapple with their susceptibility to bad ideas and false information. It employs the analogy of minds functioning like informational immune systems(1). Just as immune systems protect bodily integrity by identifying and neutralizing pathogens, the mind’s immune system safeguards cognitive integrity by protecting us from “mind bugs.” This analogy can galvanize interest in better thinking–because everyone benefits when we “debug” our minds! 


  • Ask students if they think minds can be infected with “mind bugs.” If computers can be infected with bugs, can’t minds be, too? If so, how do we protect our minds? What would a healthy mental “immune system” look like? What would it do?
  • Ask students to reflect on a time that their mind’s immune system failed them (i.e. when they fell for a false claim).
  • Invite students to suggest ways to “build up” mental immunity. Invite them to discuss the 10 principles of mental immunity laid out on our website. (2)


When new information is presented to us, questions and doubts typically arise, especially if the new information doesn’t align with what we already know. In this way, questions and doubts function like antibodies and immune cells to check ideas before incorporating them into one’s understanding. Just like the immune system screens foreign materials and neutralizes threats like viruses, the mind does the same for ideas. And just as our bodily immune system can be compromised, leading us to get sick as a result of a pathogen overcoming our immune defenses, so too can our mental immune systems sometimes fail to detect and reject bad ideas. Given its foundations are laid upon many of the evidence-based concepts we cover in this series, we believe this analogy offers a pragmatic model for learners to reflect on.

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For a deeper understanding, read our Declaration on Mental Immunity (3)

Reference List

1. https://mentalimmunityproject.org/why-mental-immunity/

2. https://mentalimmunityproject.org/how-to-build-mental-immunity/

3. https://cognitiveimmunology.net/declaration

Using prebunking to counteract the spread of disinformation.


A prebunk is a preemptive refutation of a false claim. (1) Prebunks essentially warn people that a false narrative is circulating. They might mention the false narrative, explain why it’s wrong, and urge people not to fall for it. Ideally, a prebunk arrives before the problematic misinformation itself arrives, preparing the mind to produce cognitive “antibodies”– the kinds of questions and doubts that can prevent misinformation from becoming (mis)belief.


  • Introduce students to games designed to prebunk common manipulation techniques. (2)
  • Inoculate students against common manipulative techniques. (3)
  • Learn how to prebunk and/or teach your students how to prebunk. (4)


There are many different approaches to pre-bunking. What’s important is that you expose a falsehood to a person or group before they’ve come to believe in it, making sure to expose the manipulative tactics that people are using to spread the information. Unfortunately, you can’t always get ahead of viral information using prebunks. Sometimes the falsehoods have already spread. This is when debunking and other techniques come in handy.

Learn More
“Can you outsmart a troll by thinking like one?” 5-min video from TED-Ed (5)

Reference List

1. Here’s a good definition: https://thecyberwire.com/glossary/prebunking also explained more extensively on here:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/misinformation-desk/202108/what-is-prebunking 

2. https://inoculation.science/inoculation-games/


4. https://prebunking.withgoogle.com/how-to-prebunk/

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu4OdhjnN4I

Accuracy nudges (a.k.a. accuracy prompts) are reminders to focus on accuracy.

Accuracy Nudges

Also called “accuracy prompts,” accuracy nudges are simple remarks encouraging people to seek accuracy rather than settle for merely appealing or convenient judgments.(1) It is easy to mistake the usefulness of an idea for truth. When we come to rely on ideas that are useful but false, though, our thinking can go badly astray. “But is it true?” is a great way to remind students that usefulness does not guarantee truth. It’s also a reminder that, to think clearly and well, we need to check our claims for accuracy. 


  • Point out that usefulness and truth are different things, and illustrate why it’s often a mistake to settle for convenient fiction. Going the extra mile for true beliefs often works out better in the long run. 
  • Prompt students to raise their hand if they think such-and-such claim is true. After students respond, ask “But is it really true?” and “How can we find out?” Then find out together. 
  • When a student makes a questionable claim, invite them to share their reasons or evidence. “Help us understand why we should rely on that claim as true.” “Is there an experiment or study that shows this?” When you nudge students to check the accuracy of their statements, it fosters a classroom culture of curiosity and accountability.


The concept of an accuracy nudge comes from research on how to improve (online) social networks.(2) Given that the classroom functions as a unique social network, we believe accuracy nudges will prove useful to educators. Encouraging students to seek accuracy should help improve their evidence-based reasoning skills and cultivate a shared drive to seek truth. This shared interest in truth-seeking is characteristic of communities of inquiry, which will be a topic of focus in a future post!

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On the Efficacy of Accuracy Prompts Across Partisan Lines: An Adversarial Collaboration (3)

Reference List

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-30073-5

2. https://misinforeview.hks.harvard.edu/article/developing-an-accuracy-prompt-toolkit-to-reduce-covid-19-misinformation-online/

3. https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976241232905

Raise awareness of the prevalence of disinformation online.

Disinformation Awareness

Kids need to be aware that disinformation and manipulative content await them online. They need to think about why people post things. Who is behind the information? Why are they sharing it? Are they trying to influence me? When we don’t ask such questions, we remain vulnerable; when we do, we grow more independent and resilient.
Teachers can help students develop “disinformation awareness” – a healthy level of skepticism about online content. 


  • Use questions to cultivate disinformation awareness. For example: Do people put things online to get us to do stuff? Like what? Are they trying to help you or fool you? How can you tell when someone is trying to fool you?
  • Have students find and discuss online examples. Would you trust this source? Why?
  • Teach students to recognize the Tactics of Disinformation. (1)


It’s important to understand the motive(s) behind the message. Signs of manipulative intent can be subtle, but resilient people pick up on them. Monitoring for underlying intent should become second nature. It’s important, though, that kids not become cynical or indiscriminately skeptical; there are many genuinely honest and helpful sources out there.

Many find these categories useful: “Misinformation misleads. It is false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm. Disinformation deceives. It is deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate… Malinformation sabotages. It is based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” – CISA (2)

Learn More
“Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy” (3)

Reference List

1. https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/tactics-of-disinformation_508.pdf

2. These are the definitions from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Information Manipulation infographic – https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/information_manipulation_infographic_508.pdf

3. https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2019/05/europe/finland-fake-news-intl/

A form of psychological inoculation whereby the techniques used to misinform are directly taught. to help people recognize them in the future.

Technique-Based Inoculation

Technique-based inoculations empower students to identify persuasion strategies that are commonly used to mislead. Learning about emotional manipulation, for example, can confer a degree of immunity to it. Learning to recognize logical fallacies (the focus of a future post) can make you less susceptible to being fooled by them. Extensive research in psychological inoculation underscores the effectiveness of this approach. (1)(see also Prebunking)


  • Teach students to recognize common techniques used in misinformation. (2) Start with humorous or non-triggering examples, then use real-world examples to illustrate how these techniques can distort truth. 
  • Have students create their own misinformation using known misleading techniques. This active inoculation (3) process reinforces their ability to recognize and resist such techniques in real situations.
  • Have a classroom discussion in which students identify the techniques used by their classmates. Encourage students to name the techniques and explain why they can be effective at misleading people.


Two experiments with hundreds of participants (4) demonstrate the power of technique-based inoculation. Participants who were informed about misleading techniques before being presented with misinformation were less likely to adopt the misinformation than participants who were not informed of the misleading techniques. The techniques used and inoculated against were false balance and fake experts. (5)

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The “Bad News” game teaches us to recognize deceptive techniques in a fun way.(6)

Reference List

1.  Foolproof: Why Misinformation Infects Our Minds and How to Build Immunity, by Sander van der Linden.

2.  https://inoculation.science/inoculation-videos/ & https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/  

3. https://skepticalinquirer.org/2023/10/inoculating-students-against-misinformation-by-having-them-create-it/

4. Cook J, Lewandowsky S, Ecker UKH (2017) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175799

5.   Ibid 4, false balance: “media coverage that evenly balances contrarian voices and expert views”; fake experts, example: “political operatives and lobbyists who dissent from the consensus in public discourse.”

6. https://www.getbadnews.com/en

Raise awareness of the existence and influence of cognitive biases so as to counteract them.

Bias Awareness

If you’re human, biases distort your thinking. In fact, there are over 200 documented cognitive biases! (1) Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that our thinking is hopelessly corrupt. The take-away is that we need to guard against some all-too-human tendencies. If we’re humble and careful, we can compensate for our biases and become clearer, more capable thinkers. For example, knowing that we’re prone to confirmation bias can make us less certain and more attentive to disconfirming evidence. We’re also prone to imagine causal connections that don’t really exist. Knowing this, you can make a habit of asking “Do we really know that this thing causes that thing?”


  • Focus on teaching students a few of the most common biases, like confirmation bias, negativity bias,  motivated reasoning, and the availability heuristic, along with examples. Yourbias.is is a fantastic resource. (2) The Lowdown also has a good lesson plan for this. (3)
  • Ask students the questions, “Could biases be coloring our views about this? Which one(s) might be at work here, and how might they be distorting our judgment?” Encourage them to raise such questions themselves.
  • Try a Mad Lib-like word game to help students explore the subject of unconscious bias. (4)


It’s important to learn about biases in an active way. Simply having students memorize lists of biases won’t help them understand or apply that knowledge. We want students to be aware that biases creep into everyone’s thinking. There’s no shame in this: it just means we need to practice spotting it, then making allowances. Often, this means dialing down the conviction influenced by the bias.

Reference List

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

2. https://yourbias.is/

3. https://cdn.kqed.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2017/05/Can-You-Beat-Cognitive-Bias-lesson-plan.pdf

4. https://www.edutopia.org/article/engaging-word-game-helps-students-grasp-implicit-bias/

A form of psychological inoculation whereby factual information is taught so as to preempt specific disinformation.

Fact-Based Inoculations

Fact-based inoculations directly address the factual inaccuracies at the heart of misinformation, explaining what is incorrect, and providing accurate information to counter falsehoods. By preemptively clarifying misconceptions, individuals are equipped with factual knowledge that can resist future encounters with similar misinformation. Fact-based inoculations in the classroom can help students understand the characteristics of good science. Students hold a variety of science misconceptions, and addressing them directly can increase their engagement and teach them how to recognize other misinformation.1


  • Identify misconceptions in a subject area and use them as the basis for a lesson where each is addressed with a factual correction, supported by evidence and research.
  • Have students compare fact-based inoculation and technique-based inoculation. Which do they think is more effective, and why?
  • Ask students to make fact-based inoculations. This could be for misinformation of their choosing or pre-assigned misinformation.


Fact-based inoculations naturally occur in education as it’s common to reference a debunked explanation for something when presenting the factual explanation, especially in science classes. For example, when teaching about the solar system, the disproven geocentric model is often referenced. In any given subject, referencing a disproven model or false information and explaining why it is incorrect in light of what is understood to be true can deepen a student’s understanding of a topic and help them become a more critical thinker. It’s important, however, to avoid “backfire” and “continued influence” effects by emphasizing the correct information.2

Learn More
NewsGuard’s Reality Check on Substack and the New Literacy Project’s RumorGuard are two fantastic sources of fact-based inoculations to the latest misinformation.

Reference List

1. Journal of College Science Teaching, Combining Different Inoculation Types to Increase Student Engagement and Build Resilience Against Science Misinformation

2. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing

A form of psychological inoculation focused on teaching people how to use the tactics of misinformers so they can better recognize them.

Active Inoculation

Having students create disinformation is an effective way to inoculate them against it. This is called active inoculation (1). For example, pupils can make up silly conspiracy theories and deceptive ad campaigns. Such exercises invite them to playfully deceive, which gets them thinking about the techniques bad actors use to fool people. A conversational debrief can help them draw the right conclusions.


  • Teach students to look for clues that something might be manipulative (2,3,4). For example, “angertainment” is sensationalized news that deliberately stokes outrage. Have students create fake angertainment (5) newscasts, then discuss them. What works, and why? (6)
  • Have teams of students develop pseudoscientific advertisements (7).
  • Have them invent and defend wacky conspiracy stories. Explain that a true believer can always dismiss falsifying evidence by claiming it was planted by the conspirators.


Make it clear that you’re not encouraging deceptive messaging. Understanding tricky information is a powerful skill, and with great power comes great responsibility. We must all be guardians and seekers of the truth: we should call out misleading techniques, and never use them to mislead others.

Learn More
“Inoculating Students against Misinformation by Having Them Create It”7

Reference List

1. Journal of College Science Teaching, Combining Different Inoculation Types to Increase Student Engagement and Build Resilience Against Science Misinformation

2.  Psychology Today, Disinformation Techniques: How to Spot Them

3. NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Inoculation Theory and Misinformation 

4.  Inoculation Science – Video Resources 

5. Fearless Future on LinkedIn, Rise of the Angertainment Economy 

6. Skeptical Inquirer, Inoculating Students against Misinformation by Having Them Create It 

7. Thinking Is Power, How to Sell Pseudoscience in 9 Easy Steps 

A form of psychological inoculation whereby someone is fooled then debriefed on the methods used to fool them.

Experiential Inoculation

In experiential inoculation (1), a teacher intentionally deceives their students and then provides a debriefing to help them learn how to identify misleading techniques. A demonstration that imparts the experience of being fooled can spark humility, curiosity, and a desire to learn, much like a magic trick. How did the trick work? Why did it fool us? What vulnerabilities did it exploit?


  • Find or create a false narrative about a topic of focus. Present it to your students at face value and notice if any of them seem skeptical about it. If so, ask them why and lead toward a debriefing.  If not, eventually pivot toward revealing the flaws in the narrative.
  • Use the Barnum Effect (2): Have students do a short personality test. Later, distribute fake “personality results” constructed from astrology readings. Pretend these are individualized, but give everyone the same thing. Ask the class if they found the reading relatable. By a method of our choosing, reveal to them that they were all given the same result. This demonstration was first performed by Betram Forer in 1949 (3).


Experiential Inoculation is a new concept (4) and has not yet been extensively researched, however, ample research on psychological inoculation (5) suggests that this approach should be useful. In English, Social Sciences, and Psychology classes, you can use experiential inoculation to introduce lessons on rhetoric, persuasion, and manipulation. In science classes, you can use it to introduce lessons on scientific methods and evidence-based reasoning. Whatever the case, it’s crucial that you thoroughly debrief. Make clear that your attempt to fool them was only to produce a teachable scenario and emphasize the importance of responsible communication. In any case, try to keep these lighthearted or even funny.

Learn More

The Fallacy of Personal Validation: a classroom demonstration of gullibility by Bertram Forer

Reference List

1. Skeptical Inquirer, Inoculating Students against Misinformation by Having Them Create It and Journal of College Science Teaching, Combining Different Inoculation Types to Increase Student Engagement and Build Resilience Against Science Misinformation

2. The Decision Lab, Why do we believe our horoscopes?

3. The Fallacy of Personal Validation: a classroom demonstration of gullibility

4. see footnote 1; experiential inoculation was first coined in these papers

5. Journal of Medical Internet research, Psychological Inoculation for Credibility Assessment, Sharing Intention, and Discernment of Misinformation: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis;  Experiment 3 of Dispelling the Illusion of Invulnerability: The Motivations and Mechanisms of Resistance to Persuasion

Use the Socratic method to empower the innate cognitive capacity to seek truth.

Socratic Questioning

Socratic questions (1) are a good way to prompt deeper and more careful thinking. For thousands of years, philosophers have employed them to spark curiosity, foster critical thinking, and build immunity to bad ideas. Socratic questions promote accountable thought, cognitive autonomy, and active open-minded thinking (AOT).


  • When students express views that might turn out to be problematic, ask clarifying questions.
  • Ask them why they believe what they do. Invite them to examine their reasons. Are they good reasons? Why or why not? What assumptions are they making? What are the alternatives?
  • Such exchanges should always be friendly, affirming, and supportive, never combative. The infographic included here should be a helpful starting point (2).


Use questions to draw out students’ own ideas about a subject (3). Then use follow-up questions to help them examine those ideas. Be careful, though, not to make students defensive. The interaction should be non-confrontational. Give students the time and space to think things through. Socratic questions should illuminate assumptions. They can call attention to gaps in arguments and reveal the limits of our knowledge. They should foster skepticism of simplistic answers. Wielded skillfully, they will encourage students to be active, curious, and exploratory.

Learn More

What is the Socratic Method (YouTube video)

Reference List

1. Wikipedia, Socratic questioning

2. Jame Bowman, Socratic questions revisited [infographic]

3. Colorado State University, The Socratic Method: Fostering Critical Thinking

Raise awareness of the existence and influence of logical fallacies so as to counteract them.

Logical Fallacies Awareness

Understanding how people often advance illogical arguments, and knowing how to spot such arguments, can help confer disinformation immunity. It’s crucial to learn how to identify fallacies and refrain from using them. Students should know to be on the lookout for the use of fallacies in the news media, and in their own work. Some of the most common logical fallacies include emotional appeal, ad hominem attacks, strawman argumentation, cherry-picking, and the tendency to confuse correlation with causation (a.k.a. post hoc ergo propter hoc).


  • Teach the most common logical fallacies alongside examples. Yourlogicalfallacyis.com(1) and the Purdue OWL(2) are both great sources of explanations & examples. 
  • Train students to avoid using logical fallacies by calling out when they are used in essays, assignments, and discussions. When doing this, have the student reformulate their ideas so as to avoid using any fallacies they did. This might lead to them changing their mind about something and that is critical thinking in action!
  • Present real-world examples of fallacies: Use news articles, advertisements, or social media posts to demonstrate how fallacies are used in real-life situations. Encourage students to analyze and debunk them. Snopes(3), RumorGuard(4), and NewGuard’s Reality Check(5) may be good sources for finding examples.


Logical fallacies can be tricky. Sometimes arguments combine multiple fallacies or have some valid reasoning alongside the fallacy. Identifying a fallacy doesn’t automatically mean the whole argument is wrong.  The key is to develop critical thinking skills to analyze arguments, spot weaknesses (including fallacies), and evaluate the evidence presented.

Reference List

1. yourlogicalfallacyis.com, Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies 

2. Purdue OWL, Logical Fallacies

3. Snopes, Fact Check Ratings

4. RumorGuard

5. NewsGuard, Reality Check

Critical Ignoring involves strategically disregarding misleading and low-quality information whilst choosing information to focus on.

Critical Ignoring

Critical Ignoring involves strategically disregarding misleading and low-quality information and choosing which information to focus on. This competency is essential in the digital age, where the vastness of accessible information demands that we efficiently allocate our limited attention to stay informed and maintain mental immunity against manipulative content (1).

Applications (2)

  • Teach students to create a less distracting digital environment by utilizing self-nudging (3) strategies. Examples include setting time limits on social media, limiting notifications to reduce interruptions, and employing tools to block distracting websites. These things empower students to take control of their digital spaces, enhancing focus and reducing the allure of low-quality information.
  • Teach students lateral reading (4), which involves verifying the credibility of information by checking other reliable sources rather than solely relying on one source of information.
  • Teach the “Do Not Feed the Trolls” Heuristic (5): don’t engage with online trolls and malicious actors who aim to disrupt and provoke. Teach students to block and report such individuals rather than retaliating. Blocking and reporting will deprive online trolls of the attention they seek, maintaining a healthier online environment.


“Critical” is a key modifier; we don’t want to teach students to ignore information generally, as that would most likely reinforce cognitive biases. Importantly, critical ignoring is not just about avoiding misinformation but also about managing one’s cognitive resources effectively.

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To navigate the dangers of the web, you need critical thinking – but also critical ignoring 

Reference List

1. When using the phrase “manipulative content” we’re referring to both deliberately manipulative information, and information that may not be intentionally manipulative but is inherently manipulative insofar as it misleads or misdirects our critical thinking faculties.

2. Current Directions in Psychological Science 2023, Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens (source of the above image); article also summarized here: Forget Critical Thinking. It’s Critical Ignoring That Will Keep You Sane (Positive Prescription blog)

3. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2017, Nudging and Boosting: Steering or Empowering Good Decisions

4. Teachers College Record: The Voice of Scholarship in Education 2019, Lateral reading and the nature of expertise: Reading less and learning more when evaluating digital information

5. The Conversation, ‘Don’t feed the trolls’ really is good advice – here’s the evidence

To debunk something is to prove it false or misleading by highlighting specific factual inaccuracies and/or deceptive techniques.


To debunk something is to show that it doesn’t make sense or isn’t true. An ideally rational person will cease to believe in false information or a misconception that has been properly debunked. Unfortunately, beliefs are ‘sticky’: people often have trouble parting with them. For this reason, debunking often fails to correct misbelief; nonetheless, it is not useless (1).


  • Reward students for changing their minds or self-correcting when they were initially wrong.
  • Avoid the illusory truth effect (2) by using a “truth sandwich.” Start with the truth to replace the misconception, state the myth (once), explain why it’s wrong (not just the facts, but the techniques), and finally state the truth again so it’s the last thing people remember (3).
  • In history classes, debunking lessons could be taught using historical myths and explaining how these came to be over time. For example, the myth that Napoleon was shorter than average was started by how he was depicted in political cartoons. Sometimes, it is important to understand how a misconception is formed to debunk it (4).

We highly recommend Debunk.org’s Infoshield Resilience to Disinformation mini course


Debunking commonly held misconceptions can be difficult because beliefs are often ‘sticky.’ It is important to navigate this process of debunking in a non-judgmental manner. Explain to your class that we should avoid mocking others’ views or belittling their opinion, not engage in adversarial debate, and show empathy. Everybody falls into the traps of misinformation; it is important to be open to changing your mind when there’s good reason to do so.

Learn More

Prebunking and Debunking: How to handle conspiracy theories in the classroom
from Mr Jones’ Whiteboard The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth? by John Cook in The Conversation

Reference List

1. British Journal of Health Psychology, How to debunk misinformation? An experimental online study investigating text structures and headline formats

2. The Decision Lab, Illusory truth effect “when we are repeatedly exposed to misinformation, we are more likely to believe that it’s true”

3. Wikipedia, Truth sandwich

4. Ohio History Connection, Debunking History Myths in the Classroom

Fact-checking is crucial for evaluating the credibility of information encountered in a digital landscape where misinformation & disinformation are rampant.

Fact Checking

Fact-checking (1) is crucial for evaluating the credibility of information encountered online. In a digital landscape where misinformation and disinformation are rampant, fact-checking helps individuals discern truth from falsehood and make informed decisions.


  • Teach lateral reading (2). This is a strategy for investigating who’s behind an unfamiliar online source by leaving the webpage, searching for the source in a new tab, and seeing what various reputable sources have to say about the unknown source. Provide students a mix of legitimate and illegitimate news sources to practice on, and discuss their reasons for deeming a website trustworthy or not.
  • Introduce students to the SIFT method (3). SIFT stands for Stop; Investigate the source; Find better coverage; and Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context. This is a useful way to remember the key components of fact-checking.
  • Luckily, we don’t need to do all the fact-checking ourselves, because there are many nonpartisan, professional fact-checking organizations out there; some of these include FactCheck.org, AP Fact Check, Reuters Fact Check, and many more that are tracked by the Duke Reporters’ Lab.


Fact-checking can often feel overwhelming, as it’s not realistic to fact-check every bit of new information we encounter. The ability to fact-check when needed, though, is now an essential life skill. Given that there will always be more information than we can critically fact-check, remind students to maintain a skeptical perspective when consuming news media, especially from sources that are untrustworthy or unfamiliar.

Learn More

Don’t be fooled… fact check!” Fact-checking guide by Melanie Trecek-King of Thinking Is Power

RumorGuard’s Five Factors, five factors to consider when evaluating the credibility of a claim

Reference List

1. for a more comprehensive guide to fact-checking see Thinking Is Power’s Don’t be fooled… fact check!

2. Civic Online Reasoning, Sort Fact from Fiction Online with Lateral Reading

3. Research Guides at Clark College, Evaluating Information: SIFT (The Four Moves)

The Scout Mindset emphasizes the importance of seeking truth and understanding the world as accurately as possible.

The Scout Mindset

The Scout Mindset emphasizes the importance of seeking truth and understanding the world as accurately as possible. Unlike the “Soldier Mindset,” which is defensive and motivated by a desire to be right, the Scout Mindset is open, curious, and motivated by a desire to see things as they are. This mindset encourages folks to explore different perspectives, question their own beliefs, and update their understanding based on evidence.


  • In contexts where students are working on a research project, create opportunities for self-reflection where students can discuss how their thinking has evolved on a particular topic and what new insights they have gained.
  • Encourage Perspective-Taking: Design activities that require students to consider multiple perspectives on an issue. Highlight the value of empathy and understanding others’ viewpoints as key components of the Scout Mindset.
  • Teach students how to evaluate evidence. This can involve analyzing data, assessing the credibility of sources, and understanding the difference between correlation and causation. Encourage students to update their understanding when presented with new, credible evidence, reinforcing the idea that changing one’s mind in light of new information is a strength, not a weakness.


By incorporating the Scout Mindset into educational settings, educators can help students develop a healthier approach to learning and understanding the world around them. Emphasizing the value of truth-seeking over being right can help create a classroom environment where students feel safe to explore and question, an environment of intellectual humility, curiosity, and continuous learning.

Learn More

TED Talk: Why You Think You’re Right – Even If You’re Wrong by Julia Galef

Communities of inquiry are united by a shared search for truth. This module summarizes the Communities of Philosophical Inquiry discussion method.

Communities of Inquiry

Read on Substack

Fact-checking is crucial for evaluating the credibility of information encountered in a digital landscape where misinformation & disinformation are rampant.

Street Epistemology

Read on Substack


The ‘What Works’ series is part of the Mental Immunity to Manipulative Information Campaign (MIMIC).

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