Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Look It Up for a Change Instead of Just Believing Whatever

I’ve already discussed to some extent how irritating it is when people repost things that aren’t true, without bothering to fact-check them. For better or for worse (mostly worse), people are simply inclined to believe whatever they hear or read. That’s how your Facebook feed got filled with posts about how rapists are using kids to lure in their victims, Barack Obama is gay for David Cameron, and you can get a letter mailed for free by writing “Frank” on it where the stamp is supposed to go. If you don’t feel like following links, none of those things are true.

Naturally, this kind of thing isn’t limited to the Internet – it’s as old as time itself. Last summer, some of you may have noticed a slight blackout that left about four million of us on the East Coast without power. I was living in a rural location at the time – well, more rural than my present location – and my neighborhood was without power for a couple of weeks. The nearest town, which has about 5,000 residents, was without power for a few days. Early on in the blackout, someone called to let us know that the fire department would be shutting off the town’s water supply and that we should all fill up our bathtubs and containers to prepare. Panicking and bathtub filling commenced.

I, however, was suspicious. We had been listening for public service announcements on the battery-operated radio and this is the kind of thing you’d think they would include in such an announcement.

“Who did you hear this from?” I asked. “Has anyone called the fire department to confirm that it’s true?”

Everyone gawked at me like I’d grown a second head because, of course, no one had thought to call the fire department and ask if they were really planning to cut off fresh water to thousands of people who were already in a crisis situation. This is just one of many examples of how you shouldn't just go around blindly believing everything you hear, because, as it turned out, the fire department planned no such thing. 

And we all lived happily ever after and drank lots of water, the end.

16 comments:

  1. I completely agree that you should second guess most of what you hear. Maybe it is because I'm a teacher but I hate when people who have no idea about education post their rants about teachers without any correct facts in sight.
    I wrote a post for L today about not fact-checking. I am a manic fact checker and I wanted to feel what it was like to not do it. With harmless things, that's fun too.
    Love your writing, I'll be back!

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    1. I've just got to the point now where I don't believe anyone who hasn't got at least three letters after their name. Most people will just continue believing whatever craziness they want even after you've provided a veritable mountain of evidence that they are wrong.

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  2. Great to meet you. I'm visiting from A-Z - it's good to find some more people still participating!

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    1. LOL, I guess we are getting to that part of the month, aren't we? Great to meet you too! :)

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  3. I work for an insurance company, and after any disaster I see people posting things "Insurance companies refusing to pay flood claims/storm claims/disaster claims/etc Lets all write to them and to our senators to make them pay!" Then I actually do research and usually its because the "victims" didn't have flood coverage on their policy, or they live in a high risk storm area so certain storm coverage is excluded. If this is the case, the companies don't have to pay. I tell people this at my job all the time, CHECK YOUR COVERAGE. Yet, people portray it as if the insurance companies are just refusing to pay for a covered loss. It may happen sometimes, but not nearly on the scale people act like

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    1. People are so freakin' paranoid. Imma post about that too later.

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  4. Yes! I've written a handful of blog posts about people blindly perpetuating myths. Now I've resorted to creating memes on Facebook to shame them. We should start a support group.

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    1. No shit, I need some support up in here.

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  5. Good point! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia, and thanks for the follow! Hope you continue to enjoy my posts!

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  6. Long time ago I read this woman's description of where she was when WWII was declared. She was near the White House, sitting in a car and listening to the radio. The broadcaster was going on and on and about the hundreds of people standing in front of the White House and making a big whoop-di-doo. So, she drove over but she saw only a few people standing there.

    Nonsequitur now. Or, maybe not. I've nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can pick it up and read all about it at my blog, Don't be a Hippie. Here's the direct link: A Sweetheart of an Award

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    1. Oh man, another Liebster Award! We need to come up with some new awards.

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    2. How about "I Haven't Procrastinated Too Much This Week" Award? Not that that would motivate me to take longer strides.

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    3. I'm pretty sure I don't qualify for that one.

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  7. Still not finding dirty filthy language?
    #atozchallenge
    maggie winter

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    1. I think I dropped the ball on this one. Ooops. Sorry.

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