As a matter of fact, respondents regularly troll researchers in polling and surveys – especially when they are asked whether or not they subscribe to absurd or fringe beliefs, such as birtherism (a conspiracy that held that Barack Obama was born outside of the US and was legally ineligible to serve as president of the United States).

However, many academics and pundits do not seem to be in on the joke. Instead, post-2016, a consensus quickly emerged from credulous readings of polls and surveys that America is facing an epidemic of “fake news”, which was leading people to believe things that were obviously false, and to vote for unsavory political candidates. Some of the initial studies on this topic were blatantly prejudicial in their design; other widely shared studies were ultimately retracted.