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Monday, 21 June 2021 22:38

The Tesla Autopilot Excuse: How EV Ignorance Created the Perfect Storm for a Misinformation Nightmare

Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati
A Tesla Model 3 that burned after a crash in April in Texas. A Tesla Model 3 that burned after a crash in April in Texas. NTSB

Index

...yet to issue a correction or retraction of his initial and now-debunked statements about the incident. Individuals such as Brady have not admitted to making a mistake either. 

 

How Misinformation Becomes Truth

 

Tesla, being a rather unorthodox company led by an equally unorthodox man, tends to fall victim to misinformation, lots and lots of it. The story of the Texas crash is a great example, but it is one drop in a whole bucket full of inaccurate reports about the company.

 

Musk has seemingly thrown the towel with mainstream media coverage, reportedly abolishing Tesla’s PR department last year. This, of course, has opened the doors to even more misinformation---and to a point, even disinformation---which, in turn, becomes the general public’s truth.
 
For professional insights on how misinformation becomes accepted, Teslarati reached out to Stephen Benning, a professor of psychology at the University of Las Vegas.

 

Benning explained humans tend to have an anchoring bias, in which the first information used to make a judgment influences it. While anchoring bias is typically considered in numerical judgments, like estimates on how much something is worth, it could also play out when people hear the first reports of what happened.

 

This is most notable if the event were memorable, like a fatal Tesla crash. The initial information would likely stick on people’s minds and create an initial framework that sets their beliefs about an event. 

 

“Because initial reports set people’s prior beliefs, additional information has to weigh against established beliefs. People might have additional biases at play, like the confirmation bias that filters out information that isn’t consistent with a previous set of beliefs," Benning wrote. "It’s as if people...