AirTalk for April 13, 2010

Caltech earthquake rumor shakes Twittersphere

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The social networking site Facebook is displayed on a Blackberry mobile phone

For several days, a rumor has been spreading wildly over the internet, compliments of Twitter and Facebook. It started with a tweet that claimed Caltech was sending employees and students home because seismologists were predicting a major earthquake was about to hit the Southland. Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey were flooded with concerned calls, but the whole thing was a hoax – Caltech scientists say it’s impossible to predict earthquakes and no one was sent home. Why do rumors like this take off? What's going on in our heads? And is social media one giant rumor mill?

Guests:

Lucy Jones, Chief Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project

Dr. Nando Pelusi, Psychologist and Contributing Editor, Psychology Today

Dr. Nicholas DiFonzo, Professor of Psychology, Rochester Institute of Technology, author of The Watercooler Effect: A Psychologist Explores the Extraordinary Power of Rumors (Avery)


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