Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael Gillespie

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

James Sutton

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Fake News, Confirmation Bias, Turn of the Screw, Henry James, Education, Teaching, Pedagogy, Refutation

Date of Defense



This thesis explores the societal implications of confirmation bias through the analysis of the characters and criticism of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, and the application of modern psychological and pedagogical studies to demonstrate a similar misunderstanding of truth in society. The aim of this study is to provide an approach to teach students that the plausibility of a belief based on selective evidence is insufficient justification for validation. Such flawed logic insidiously erodes one’s trust in objective truths, instead promoting subjective truths that are misinformed by media forms like fake news, biased claims, and unfiltered online content. The findings of this thesis suggest that students show an overwhelming difficulty in discerning opinion from fact and evaluating arguments and that a refutational approach to new information, as outlined in this thesis, is a skill that democracy hinges upon as it requires an educated populace that effectively evaluates information.





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