Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research


This paper examines the pro-Confederacy movement’s attempt to distort history through textbook revision and the anti-vaccine movement’s attempt at legitimacy through Dr. Andrew Wakefield, to argue in favor of strengthened media literacy as a brace against the effects of disinformation and propaganda. Previous definitions of misinformation and disinformation overlap and are as yet unclear and therefore should be further studied. Lost Cause mythologists worked diligently to propagate school textbooks that portrayed skewed versions of history that cast Southern Confederates’ cause as noble and honorable while obscuring the real reason for the Civil War. Similarly, Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified data to publish an anti-vaccine study that took years to discredit and to be retracted. While undergraduate students can rely on the CRAAP and BEAM methods of identifying problematic texts, they should be prepared to also engage in lateral reading to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest. Lateral reading is used in this essay to analyze a conspiracy theorist’s links to Russian governmental propaganda outlets.