Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Truthiness" on the Web

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, a Martin Luther King quote was everywhere on the internet: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."

Problem was: MLK never said it.

Megan McArdle, the business and economics editor for The Atlantic, uncovered the fakery … a perfect example of “truthiness” on the web! (For those of my readers unfamiliar with the term, “truthiness” — a word coined by political satirist Stephen Colbert — refers to something someone wants to believe is true, without any evidence, logic or critical examination of the facts.)

Another quote — "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure” — this one attributed to Mark Twain, also spread quickly. This too was a fake, according to Gizmodo.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. You cannot take ANYTHING you find on the Internet at face value. Just because something is repeated again and again doesn’t make it true!

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Blogger John Scheibel said...

Ken, I think you need to add, "even when you think it is from a legitimate source". It is a constant battle with my children to get them to use critical thinking in deciding what they think is the "right" answer, rather than relying on what Katie Couric says.

Friday, July 15, 2011 11:11:00 PM  

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