Friday, March 10, 2006

Real or Hoax - Update

In an earlier post, I directed you to a fun sight called, which debunks several urban myths. My eldest son got a real kick out of the sight and was reading a lot of their stories. At the dinner table last night, he mentioned that one of the stories snopes marked as true, he had seen proven false on the TV show Urban Legends. So I decided to check into it a little more.

On the sight, there is a subsection called "The Repository of Lost Legends (TRoLL)" and that is the section where Eldest Son had seen the story in question (about the showing of the Poseidon Adventure on the Titanic). I read one of the stories it called true and it sounded completely bogus to me, so I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page that said "more information about this page." Which took me to this page, which said everything in the TRoLL section was made up. So, a word to the wise, you can't even trust the people who claim to be setting you straight on what everybody else told you. In the world wide web of information, apparently A LOT is actually misinformation. They do make a good point in their explanation of why the TRoLL section exists:
This section graphically demonstrates the pitfalls of falling into the lazy habit of taking as gospel any one information outlet's unsupported word. We could have put up a page saying "Don't believe everything you read, no matter how trustworthy the source," but that wouldn't have conveyed the message half as well as showing through direct example just how easy it is to fall into the "I got it from so-and-so, therefore it must be true" mindset. That's the same mindset that powers urban legends, the same basic mistake that impels countless well-meaning folks to confidently assert "True story; my aunt (husband, best friend, co-worker, boss, teacher, minister) told me so."

No single truth purveyor, no matter how reliable, should be considered an infallible font of accurate information. Folks make mistakes. Or they get duped. Or they have a bad day at the fact-checking bureau. Or some days they're just being silly. To not allow for any of this is to risk stepping into a pothole the size of Lake Superior.
To that I must say, Well said! In fact the whole "False Authority" page is worth a read.

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