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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Digital Deception

I've just had a close encounter the very educational kind that I need to tell you about.

In yesterday's article, I used material from Snopes.com to help make my points.1 For me, Snopes.com has been my reflexive, reliable, go-to site for quick debunking of information I suspect might be false. It appears they decided to teach folks like me a lesson. In another article, Snopes.com has debunked some of their own material, some of which I used.2 I'm still absorbing everything it implies, but I wanted to ensure you heard about this matter as quickly as possible.

I've updated yesterday's article to reflect this new information. Here's what the latter part of it now says:

As to the questions I posed at the beginning, according to Snopes.com (which some of you might have discovered by immorally—OK, maybe alertly—looking ahead at the final reference list):

[4 April 2017: As you read my original (3 April 2017) material below, do so with your extreme skeptic hat on. I'll explain later.]

  • It is true that, in 1999, the Mississippi state legislature did pass a bill eliminating fractions and decimal points from the mathematics curriculum of all public secondary schools in the state.[1] Even when I read the Snopes.com report, I still had trouble believing this wasn’t a hoax.
  • It is false that Mister Ed was a horse. The part in the TV show was played by a more co-operative zebra.[2] I’m personally shocked—I was a fan and, although I had skillfully deduced that the horse couldn’t actually talk, I never doubted that it was a horse. (FYI: I can still sing the show’s theme song, although my family might debate whether it qualifies as singing.)
  • And it is not true that lemmings commit mass suicide. The famous footage in the Disney documentary that showed them plunging en masse over a cliff into the sea was faked, and the idea that this nonetheless accurately reflected lemming behaviour was also incorrect.[3]

[4 April 2017: The day after I posted this article on 3 April 2017, a friend pointed me to an article, also in Snopes.com, that indicates that they perpetrated a hoax with some of the very articles I relied on them for.[4] There's a serious lesson to be learned here. I'm still researching and absorbing the information. More on the results next week.]

I'll reflect more on this in next week's article. The incident certainly highlights the extraordinary nature of the world we're living in.

© Calvin J. Brown

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1 "Digital Truth." Tracking Truth, http://www.trackingtruth.info/2017/04/digital-truth.html. Posted 3 April 2017, Revised 4 Apr 2017.
2 "False Authority." Snopes.com, http://www.snopes.com/lost/false.asp, Accessed 4 Apr 2017.

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