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12 Examples of Misinformation

Misinformation is untrue or inaccurate information. This has several common varieties as follows.

Misuse of Statistics

Statistics that are meaningless because they do not follow a proper mathematical or scientific methodology. For example, a statistic that compares wages that doesn't control for factors such as profession, years of experience or educational background such that the statistic gives a misleading impression of things. This can be described as comparing apples and oranges.


Misinterpretation of something that has some basis in truth such as the findings of a scientific study. For example, a study that determines a particular substance inhibits a pathogen in a test tube. This could then be misconstrued as having the same effect inside the human body where this would actually require a large well controlled human trial to determine.


Fallacies are errors in logic. These are frequently communicated and spread by media, social media and word of mouth. In some cases they are also institutionalized and accepted as a fact by a society. For example, a common error of math known as the base rate fallacy whereby people or institutions underestimate the impact of a false positive rate. For example:
An algorithm that detects cheating on tests has a 5% false positive rate. It is used to scan the tests of 10,000,000 students where only 1% of students actually cheated. Rick is caught cheating by the algorithm. What is the probability that he is innocent?

Base Rate Fallacy
The base rate fallacy views the 5% false positive rate as the chance that Rick is innocent. Therefore, it is common to mistakenly believe there is a 95% chance that Rick cheated on the test.

In reality, the algorithm will detect 500,000 cheaters with its 5% false positive rate where only 100,000 actually cheated based on the 1% cheating rate. Therefore there is a 1 in 5 chance that Rick cheated, or an 80% chance he is innocent.

Cherry Picking

Cherry picking is a particularly common fallacy whereby evidence is ignored if it doesn't align to your argument or ideology.


Groupthink is a social environment where people face banishment and isolation if they fail to align to an ideology. This can be viewed as a system of cherry picking where only information that aligns to the ideology may be discussed.

Contextless Information

Information that is presented without context. For example, a 20 second video clip that tells one story where a longer 3 minute clip of the same event tells a completely different story.

Missing Nuance

Nuance are small details and grey areas that are important to understanding information. For example, a person's tone of voice and facial expression when they say something may indicate elements of communication such as humor, metaphor and sarcasm.

False Rumors

Information that spreads by word of mouth, often changing and becoming further from the truth with each retelling. Due to the nature of rumors it is difficult to determine where they began.


Disinformation is misinformation that is intentionally spread. For example, an intentional false rumor that is designed to discredit an adversary.

Fake News

A modern term for disinformation in the media that is often introduced for political or commercial purposes. For example, a media outlet that distributes false information to gain clicks.


A hoax is disinformation that has no material political or commercial motive. In other words, it is disinformation as a prank.


The term propaganda indicates a sophisticated disinformation campaigned sponsored by a government, political party, industry or organization.

Misinformation vs Disinformation

Misinformation is any information that is incorrect. This can include mistakes.
Disinformation is the intentionally spread of misinformation. For example, propaganda is a type of disinformation.
Overview: Misinformation
Untrue or inaccurate information.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about misinformation.
2 + 2 = 5
Cherry Picking
Media Effects
Media Influence
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