Rumor

Authored by: Axel Gelfert

The Routledge Handbook of Applied Epistemology

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138932654
eBook ISBN: 9781315679099
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315679099-19

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Abstract

Rumor, for better or worse, is an important species of informal communication, yet it takes conceptual effort to distinguish it from related phenomena such as gossip and small talk. Early rumor research focused on how rumors emerge in crisis situations, such as natural disasters and wartime. While the emergence of a rumor reflects a collective attempt to resolve an ambiguous social situation, individuals are not merely passive recipients of rumors: they also decide whether or not to pass them on. A well-constituted epistemic community may thus engage in active filtering of information; this renders the question of whether (and when) rumors are reliable very much an empirical matter.

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