The misinformation superhighway

Lou Reed died last week. Really.

I mean, it’s not an incredible shock that a seventy one year old ex heroin user who had a kidney transplant last year would die, it’s just shocking that he died on Sunday, 27 October. Because on Saturday, 26 October, his agent had confirmed that Lou was alive, after an internet hoax spread the rumor of his death the week before. He had flown away from the dirty disinformation boulevard, just to be run down on the misinformation superhighway. Ambiguous in life, ambiguous in death.

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out if he was still with us or not. Rolling Stone and the New York Times were running the story. The story. As I checked various “sources”, I found the same story, word for word, published by every news agency. Does the story take on more credibility when both Rolling Stone and the New York Times cut and paste the same piece?

Despite all the amputations, you know you could just

Journalism seems to have sunk to the level of telephone tag. As I and others were trying to separate fact from fiction, one perfectly reasonable issue was raised. If the article doesn’t mention the hoax from the week before, it’s less credible. Unfortunately, Lou was dead, and he hadn’t made many friends in the press, so either they were lousy journalists or just weren’t aware of the hoax. More than likely both.

It is harder and harder to verify information, because a good deal of it is just re-posted with the primary source uncredited. When it is also re-posted without a date, old rumors can become new again. Even people who think they’ve avoided a hoax still manage to propagate one, as happened a few weeks ago when I received an email warning about a new Christmas stamp honoring Muslims. At the bottom of the email was a link to Snopes.com, which shows the information in the email to be false. I’m guessing not many people click on links, they just see “snopes.com: New Forever Stamp — Muslim EID Stampand assume that the link confirms the email. I’m sure some people see EID and fail to recognize it means “Festival” in Arabic, perhaps confusing it with I.E.D.

Most hoaxes can be dispelled by taking a deep breath and counting to ten. How likely is it that Obama has a staff of twenty secret service agents to polish his golf clubs? Wouldn’t you have heard something about it over the last four years? Isn’t that website a source of satire? Does the fact that the author’s last credit was “Twenty four ways to vulcanize a chicken” suggest that he may not have the background to be reporting this information? Is the person who sent you this email the same person who told you that the Earth’s magnetic field was about to reverse?

The internet is filled with information. Information is not facts. Facts are not “the truth”. The truth is not the story. Example: Information “There are fourteen million child brides every year worldwide” (Defined as bride under eighteen years of age). Fact The legal age for marriage is under eighteen in much of the world (The lowest legal age in the world is New Hampshire, USA, at thirteen, and Yemen, where there is no limit on age for marriage, but intercourse is not legal until “the indefinite time they are suitable for sexual intercourse”). The truth early marriages affect both men and women, both positively and negatively.  The Story Young women are often forced into servitude under the guise of marriage. 

Don’t miss the forest, don’t miss the trees.

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6 comments on “The misinformation superhighway

  1. Lieve Cash says:

    Slight difference in spelling IED and EID, but a world of difference in meaning… People believe what they want to believe and don’t care if it’s true or not. Obama is a Muslim and he must have printed those stamps himself, and then used them on Christmas card to Republicans – for sure!

    In case your readers don’t click on the links in this blog either (although I credit them with much more intelligence than the average reader), here is the information from Snopes: It was introduced by the United States Postal Service (at the then-current 34-cent rate) as part of its Holiday Celebrations Series on 1 September 2001, just ten days before the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. It has since been reissued (with varying background colors) at updated first-class postage rates in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and as a Forever stamp in 2011 and 2013.

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  2. Thank you Lieve for the clarification. Sometimes your husband can just ramble on and on……(hahahaaa)

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  3. Oh, and another thing- I think Lou’s down at that Mexican resort with Elvis.

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  4. Alice Sanders says:

    Read everything with a grain of salt. Believe nothing you hear the first time, because usually there is not time to get the facts….only believe half of what you see. I don’t check snopes any longer because it is slanted and owned by the left.

    One of my cousins use to tell me how mean everyone else was to her. No matter what one hears concerning others….always remember there are two sides to a story. My boyfriend used to say “and somewhere in the middle, you might find the truth.”

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