People have access to more information today than ever before, yet they still only believe things that confirm their predetermined worldview.

People have access to more information today than ever before, yet they still only believe things that confirm their predetermined worldview.

Social media has allowed people to be outraged by more things than ever. They are able to pretend to care about every dead D-list celebrity. They are even able to pretend to be interested in science to appear smarter to their friends and followers.

It is disturbing to me when a musician or playwright dies and suddenly everyone is a huge fan. More disturbing was how many people thought photos with tortillas behind a fake backdrop were beautiful supermoon photos this week.

The moon isn’t made of cheese – Neil Armstrong checked – and it isn’t a burrito wrapper.

But the problem with fakes goes beyond people who can’t tell an astronomical phenomenon from an appetizer at a Mexican restaurant. Fake news played a big part in helping elect a President this year. I don’t know that people were convinced to vote for Donald Trump by the outlandish news stories that they allowed themselves to believe – and forward to friends on social media - but the fake news was certainly more than enough to fill the echo chamber and keep facts out that could have made a difference.

In fact, fake news stories had more reach on social media during the waning days of the 2016 Presidential campaign than real news stories.

People worry about a liberal media bias, but they read and believe news stories that are entirely untrue because of their innate need to have their beliefs affirmed. Even members of the Trump campaign fell prey to these stories and retweeted them or cited them during interviews.

One man claims to make $10,000 a month publishing and pushing fake news stories online. I don’t know that I believe that number since he admits he writes fake news, but I’m sure a lot of people will believe it.

“They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected,” fake news writer Paul Horner told the Washington Post this week. “He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

That’s the big problem here. I don’t even begrudge people who claim to have issues with a liberal media bias. It is widely known that more educated people tend to be more liberal. To be a member of the media typically requires an advanced degree. The Venn diagram correlation is obvious.

But there are many conservative news sites now. FOX News on television, almost every AM radio host, and many newspapers tilt toward Republicans. I would agree that most people in newsrooms across America are liberal, but it isn’t a monolithic media and the vast conspiracy theories are wildly inaccurate.

But because of this perception – which has been weaponized by conservative politicians – people tend to see supermoons when really it’s just a guy holding a tortilla behind a backdrop.

However, their fear of being manipulated by facts from a liberal bias has somehow led to a twisted new reality where people don’t even care if the news they hear is true, as long as it supports their argument.

“My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me,” said Horner, who isn’t proud of that fact since he was a Gary Johnson supporter. “His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.”

Because of that fake news story, many from the right side of the political spectrum have begun discrediting other real protests because “you know” these people are paid protesters. Even a Senator who claimed to be against Trump tweeted this week that he wondered why more people don’t report on paid protesters.

“Why don’t we have more reporting on paid rioting? Who pays? How much?” Sen. Ben Sasse asked on Twitter.

The answer is basically the same reason we don’t report on accidents where cars strike unicorns.

Other fake news stories include claims that Trump really won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College. One guy said that he believed that on Twitter and a website close to the President-elect pushed the story out to a hopeful public who received it well even though it is clearly untrue.

It is understandable that people like to hear stories that affirm their own beliefs. Everyone wants to be right.

Those facts that hit you where it hurts and make you question long held convictions can make for some uncomfortable moments while you lie awake at night.

But when your belief system is underpinned by falsehoods, it isn’t good for you or anyone you know. Ignorance is only blissful for the ignorant. The rest of the people in their lives pay the price because they don’t just know the truth, they know the ignorant don’t.

The thing that keeps me from believing the world is broken is my belief that most people who voted for Trump were against Clinton from the start and no news – real or fake – was ever going to change that.