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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fact Check

I've had the idea for this post in the back of my head for quite some time now, but ideas can be like puffs of smoke. We become aware of them and then they fly away before we notice. It's just that there were a few things that all happened at about the same time and reminded me that this was something that I really wanted to Rave about.

I have come to the conclusion that people will believe anything and everything that they see on the internet. And that despite the widespread knowledge of the various uses and abilities of Photoshop and other photo-editing tools, people still believe that every photo that they see is real. I see people sharing stories and photos on social media every day without verifying if these stories are actually true. I have gotten to the point where I don't want to share any stories without doing some quick research first.

One of the things that reminded me of wanting to write this post was a photograph that I saw posted for the umpteenth time about "purple ladybugs which are only found in Hawaii." The photo shows a number of brilliantly purple ladybugs on a black and white background. My first thought, of course, is of why I have never heard of this before. No, I've never been to Hawaii, but I know lots of folks who have, and they all know how much I love purple. Nor have any nature programs or articles mentioned this intriguing little creature. If you do a few seconds of research, you will not be caught sharing this story and altered picture. Incidentally, the photographer who turned the ladybugs purple also has the exact same photo with them in yellow, green, and red, among other colors. 

I've also seen posts showing purple crested owls or other adorable little critters with descriptions that say things like "whoozywhatsis, REAL." In the case of the whoozywhatsis, it was indeed real. A real toy. Yes, what was being represented as an incredibly cuddle-licious little real animal was a cute and cuddly stuffed toy. One of the latest is a dog who is supposed to be so rare he is the only one of his species. He just happens to be the only one of his species who was either painted with dog-safe hair dye or photoshopped with cheetah markings, right down to the black lines on the face.

Another rumor that won't die, even after more than fifteen years, is the rumor that ramen noodles or the Styrofoam cups that they are often packaged in, or both, are coated with wax that will cause cancer or otherwise kill you. These stories claim to come from the experience of a friend who discovered his stomach was lined with a coating of wax which had to be surgically removed. During the surgery, the patient died. The noodles and cups are not coated with wax, but if they were, food-grade wax will pass through the body, not getting trapped in the stomach. If people want to get excited about ramen, perhaps they should stick with reality - there's a heck of a lot of sodium in the flavor packet. Also, Styrofoam. Do I need to say more?

Another urban legend that won't die is the story about the exposure of the horrific happenings in the McDonald's beef processing facility in (insert name of city or state here). Yes, folks, the story is scandalous. In fact, it's so scandalous that it can't possibly be true. If it were true, McDonald's would be out of business. You've heard the story, haven't you? The one that says that McDuck's beef processing plant was found to contain not just beef but HUMAN MEAT. And not just human meat. The pieces were small, so it was actually CHILD MEAT. (I want to stress that those terms are from the story, not from me. I would never refer to something this dreadful as human meat, but human flesh.) This is even more imaginative than the story that said McDougal's served Grade Z beef. This is pretty amazing, since there is no such designation from the USDA. The grades are: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. 

Yet again I recently saw someone cut and paste a Facebook status saying that Facebook was going to start charging you, the reader of the post and an unsuspecting Facebook user, a monthly service fee unless you shared this message as your status. It also asserted that you would notice after the post was shared that your Facebook icon would turn blue. Mm-hmm. The Facebook icon has always been blue. There is also no plan to ever charge fees on Facebook. They make plenty of money through their advertising. Apparently this one has been flitting about for several years now. I guess people keep falling for it because their icon is blue after they share the post. The fact that it was blue before the post goes unnoticed.

Of course, there's always examples of the special kinds of people who believe that everything in novels or movies or those special newspapers by the checkout stands in the supermarket is The Truth. When I looked at some comments last week on yet another article speculating about the cause of death of Prince, I hit the jackpot. A comment was made that Prince was murdered by Will Smith. I wish that I had copied the comment so that I could have preserved it in all of its glory forever, but I'll just give you the gist of it. The writer asserted that Will Smith was the last person to see Prince alive (not true, Will Smith posted on social media that he spoke with him the night before). The commenter went on to assert that Will Smith was sent to kill Prince because Will Smith is a member of the Illuminati. After all, the Illuminati had already used their power to make Will Smith the Prince of Bel Air. And all of those years I wasted thinking that it was just a tv show!

I hope I haven't bored you senseless with my Ravings about unreality. I just wish that more people would do an occasional fact check. Although I must admit that sometimes these stories can be rather entertaining!


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