Tell ‘em up front it’s a hoax – they still buy it


Orson Welles was on to something with his “War of the Worlds” broadcast.  In fact, after that first night of panic, the same script was used on other occasions, and people still got suckered in.  (Listen to the RadioLab feature on this phenomenon — it’s wonderful.)

It’s almost as if people were going around with signs on their backs that say “Lie to me, baby!”  Only, the people put the signs on their shirts and blouses themselves.

For whatever ill-thought, malicious reason, somebody invented an absolutely unbelievable hoax that President Obama asked the Pentagon to have military people swear allegiance to him, instead of the nation. Jumping in Pools posted it.

Jumping in Pools also listed it as satire, in tags.

But the hoax sucked in the gullible all over the web.

Let me repeat:  It’s a hoax.

It’s a nasty hoax.  It’s a stupid hoax.  It’s a malicious hoax.  But it’s still a hoax.

The author(s) added this at the top of the article:

NOTE: This article is, in fact, a satire piece. While you’re here, read other articles, like Obama going on the quarter, how he’s genetically superior, and how he took down Blago. And you can also check out Joe’s Babe of the Week, which comes out every Friday. And become a fan and return and tell your friends. Word up.

Still the gullible fall.

A Google search produces references to the hoax claims all across the internet — most failing to appreciate that the claim is a hoax.  Snopes.com has it right — but who bothers to check the facts?

Americans can be sore losers, and Americans can be awfully stupid.  If you wonder why it is that good sense prevails in public affairs so seldom, it is because Americans too often fight against good sense, sometimes even when they know better.

Creationists make wild and clearly erroneous claims?  No problem!  Some hundreds of preachers will still use the falsehoods in sermons and church newsletter editorials.  Worse, some people with More Power Than They Ought To Have will decide to mess up science curricula on the issue.  Badly informed parents read the research backwards, and claim that vaccines hurt children, and thousands flock to their websites, stop vaccinating their kids, even when the kids get sick and die.  People will make bad financial decisions.

Generally we hope to educate people out of these problems, over time.

How much hope can we hold that education will work when people are hoaxed by things that are clearly labeled as “not fact?”

Another Wall of Shame, bloggers and others who got suckered by the Obama-taking-over-the-military hoax; some of the suckers are:

Doesn’t this make you question anything you read on the blogs on this list?

Wall of Honor:  Blogs that yelled “HOAX!”:

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39 Responses to Tell ‘em up front it’s a hoax – they still buy it

  1. Nick Kelsier says:

    My argument – which has gone totally unaddressed, except to dismiss it out of hand – is that sharing information on a blog cannot be construed as necessarily constituting endorsement or certification of truth. So it’s only a lie if I was trying to pass it off as the truth, instead of merely passing along a report.

    Man. I wish you guys had put this kind of energy into attacking the establishment media’s propaganda campaign prior to the Iraq War. That would have yielded much more solid fruit than attacking, you know, a blogger who voted for Obama merely because he advertised a hoax.

    Gee, Jeremy, I did criticize the propaganda done in the lead up to the war. I’ve criticized the Iraq war from day one. And as for your question..your lie was a lie of omission. You either knew and didn’t say or you didn’t bother to do any research on the veracity of the claim. So in effect you did endorse what you passed along as “information.” Ed is right..you jumped into the pool with Rush on that one.

    Like

  2. Jeremy says:

    Damn, dude, that’s pretty low.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Well, you’re in rich company, you and Rush Limbaugh.

    Like

  4. Jeremy says:

    > In other words, Jeremy, you’re a sociopathic liar trying to fool
    > people stupid enough to believe you.

    What was my lie?

    My argument – which has gone totally unaddressed, except to dismiss it out of hand – is that sharing information on a blog cannot be construed as necessarily constituting endorsement or certification of truth. So it’s only a lie if I was trying to pass it off as the truth, instead of merely passing along a report.

    Man. I wish you guys had put this kind of energy into attacking the establishment media’s propaganda campaign prior to the Iraq War. That would have yielded much more solid fruit than attacking, you know, a blogger who voted for Obama merely because he advertised a hoax.

    Like

  5. Nick Kelsier says:

    In other words, Jeremy, you’re a sociopathic liar trying to fool people stupid enough to believe you.

    As for you, Anon, you’re an idiot. Using your reasoning I could paint GWB as trying to exterminate the Jews because of his fascist tendencies.

    Obama isn’t a Marxist. Nothing you say proves otherwise. You simply don’t have any idea what Marxism, Socialism, or Communism is. Obama at the moment barely qualifies as a liberal. But if you want to persist in your notion, Anon, then I’m going to paint every republican on the planet as a fascist or a Nazi. Take your pick. You can be honest or you can continue to lie.

    Like

  6. [...] readers here — all dozen of ‘em — may remember last January when we spotlighted a hoax at a blog called Jumping in Pools; the author claimed President Obama had ordered members our armed forces to take an oath of [...]

    Like

  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Dear Anon,

    That would almost make sense had the proposal been of a Marxist bent — but it’s Fascist instead. Do you know the difference?

    But it makes no sense whatsoever to anyone who has read the Constitution, nor to anyone who understands how our military works, nor to anyone paying attention to the issues.

    But let’s let you have your say: What “marxist tendencies” has Obama shown, anywhere? Please tell us what proposal or action corresponds with any part of Marxist theory or hypothesis. Be specific.

    Because, you know, I think that working for a balanced budget is not Marxist. I think that working to make the banking system of capitalism secure is exactly the opposite of Marxism. I think the Lily Ledbetter Act is the quintessential free-market, American-flag-waving sort of law.

    Got any specifics?

    Like

  8. anon says:

    Hoax or not, the story is plausible in light of Obama’s marxist tendencies.

    Like

  9. Jeremy says:

    What facts did I get wrong? What claims did I make?

    Like

  10. Jeremy says:

    I think it’s the height of arrogance to claim no responsibility for one’s own actions, to claim no responsibility for a writer to get the facts straight.

    But this is the problem. I’ve asked you what the consequences of my actions were. You said they caused no damage.

    So… what’s going on here? What am I not taking responsibility for? What are you upset about?

    Wollombi, I’m over myself – but I do want to understand what Ed’s *actual* beef is. I suspect his beef is that I linked to a story he doesn’t like, so therefore I’m “bad”.

    Like

  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Since when is it arrogant to expect people not to gossip, to expect people to check their facts and stick to the truth?

    People shouldn’t be suckered in by such astounding hoaxes. It was clear from the start that the claim was a hoax (see the explanations above). Had those bloggers waited a half hour, they’d been able to find the hoax exposed in several places.

    I think it’s the height of arrogance to claim no responsibility for one’s own actions, to claim no responsibility for a writer to get the facts straight.

    Your mileage may differ, but if it does you’re going in the wrong direction.

    Like

  12. Wollombi says:

    Ed, don’t you think you’ve been enough of a twat for one day? Sure, you and Jeremy disagree. It’s a difference of OPINION. Both of you need to get over yourselves, but Ed, you’re being pretty damned arrogant here.

    Just my opinion. Feel free to feel or believe differently.

    Like

  13. Jeremy says:

    I don’t give a whit about my reputation as a journalist, in fact. Glad we’ve established that.

    Like

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    No great danger — just understand that we know you’re a sucker for a bad story.

    It’s of no consequence at all, to someone who does not give a whit about his own reputation.

    Like

  15. Jeremy says:

    I have no problem whatsoever with the correction.

    I do have a problem with a blogger who seems to want to hold me to a ridiculous standard I never signed up for. I never promised to be unbiased. I have an agenda.

    And sharing a link does not equal endorsement, regardless of the fact that I came up in a google search you did five minutes before publishing this post.

    What exactly was the damage I did by being “suckered” into perpetuating this hoax? Where is the great danger you speak of? Sounds like the internet handled it just fine.

    Like

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Then you got suckered, Jeremy. You got reeled in like a flopping crappie out of bass waters. If you don’t apologize for screwing up and misleading your readers, don’t get hot and bothered when we provide a correction.

    Like

  17. Jeremy says:

    Had it been non-snarky, or supportive of Obama, would you have given it the play you did?

    Once again, you’re treating blogs like grade-A professional journalism. Get over it.

    Translation: “My blog is not to be taken seriously. If you want to be sure you’re reading a fair and honest assessment of what’s going on in the world go somewhere else. I take no responsibility for anything I put in my blog.”

    Well, I take responsibility for what goes on my blog – I just don’t take the same kind of responsibility as an organization of full time reporters. It’s up to the reader whether to take my blog seriously or not. But, yeah – if you want actual *news*, read a *newspaper* – I don’t apologize for not providing a “fair and honest assessment” of anything but my opinion.

    Like

  18. Ray says:

    Jeremy6d: “I don’t see why I should take greater care in what I publish, because, quite honestly, I don’t think what I publish has the kind of effect that the WaPo or NYT does. That’s why they get paid to do what they do, no?”

    Translation: “My blog is not to be taken seriously. If you want to be sure you’re reading a fair and honest assessment of what’s going on in the world go somewhere else. I take no responsibility for anything I put in my blog.”

    Like

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    If there were red flags, I missed them. In any case, I’m not sorry for making the judgment call I did, but it was, in fact, a judgment call – subject to error like any judgment.

    There were lots of flags. Please don’t miss them next time.

    I wonder what your reaction would have been had it said “Pentagon sources said that hundreds of thousands of members of the U.S. military have voluntarily expressed their support for President Obama.” Had it been non-snarky, or supportive of Obama, would you have given it the play you did?

    Like

  20. jeremy6d says:

    The problem is, Jeremy, that the story reeked of hoax.

    What is it about publishing a link to a story that indicates I believe it to be 100% accurate?

    Let’s be clear here: you’re attacking me for not having good journalistic intuitions and judgement. Well, sir, guilty as charged. But none of my readers have an expectation that I’m a source of primary reporting, or that they should take any information they find on my site as the revealed truth. There can be no lack of journalistic integrity where there was no expectation of such to begin with!

    Again: I share links to stories I think are important. I’m not in a position to confirm or deny stories because I’m *not a reporter*. I never attributed any truth or falsity to the story – I simply alerted my readers to its *existence*. If that’s spreading the hoax, then fine – but it’s not something I’m liable to be shamed about.

    If your point is merely that I’m stupid, well, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion.

    How many red flags do you need?

    Like I said, I actually did look into this – not out of any sense of obligation to my readers, but because it did seem like a whopper. I erred on the side of disclosure, not being able to make a final decision one way or another.

    If there were red flags, I missed them. In any case, I’m not sorry for making the judgment call I did, but it was, in fact, a judgment call – subject to error like any judgment.

    My personal bias is suspicion of power in general, being an anarchist. I don’t have it in for Obama in particular. And I certainly don’t think there’s any significance in oaths to a piece of paper, a flag, or anything like that – except in the sense that changes in long-standing traditions may be indicative of something profound.

    Like

  21. Ed Darrell says:

    The problem is, Jeremy, that the story reeked of hoax. Your excrement detector not only was turned off, but it appears to be faulty — they all come equipped with the feature that turns them on when the excrement is pure, like that story.

    Promoting discussion is one thing. Throwing excrement against the wall and all over the internet is something else.

    I don’t know how young you are, or whether you’ve never taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but most people who do that take it very seriously. There is no good or decent reason for a president to ask for personal fealty from the military (flags 1 through 10), no one but a total fool would think any military person would take such an oath after Nuremberg (flags 11 through 15), there would be no possible advantage to a president asking for such an oath (flags 16 through 20), and Obama’s not anywhere near that stupid (flags 21 through 30).

    How many red flags do you need?

    Like

  22. jeremy6d says:

    Sorry, with all the bold type, large print, and italics, I just naturally assumed this was something you felt strongly about. What do you think of the actual points I made? Any thoughts?

    I hope I made clear that the incendiary nature of the claim was *precisely* why people trafficked in it. That’s why people create hoaxes; that’s why people promulgate hoaxes unwittingly. Hell, even the MSM gets caught up in hoaxes. What do you expect from a bunch of amateurs?

    I don’t see why I should take greater care in what I publish, because, quite honestly, I don’t think what I publish has the kind of effect that the WaPo or NYT does. That’s why they get paid to do what they do, no?

    Like

  23. Ed Darrell says:

    Not mad — I’m just calling for greater care when publishing incendiary claims.

    Like

  24. Jeremy says:

    I meant, “You’re mad because I was wrong?” above.

    Like

  25. Jeremy says:

    I’m not sure where your hostility is coming from. You’re made because I was wrong? OK…

    I actually did do research on this to try to corroborate it. There was scant information out there – not necessarily a sign that a story is a hoax. That is why I commented on it the way I did – “according to a source”. I did not write an article on it, I merely shared a link so that we could boost the conversation and hopefully get more clarity.

    That’s how blogs work. Very rarely do they “break the story”. Usually, it is through the chatter and back and forth information exchange between bloggers and commenters that we discover the kind of information that helps us make sense of today’s events.

    You’re acting as if I’m a journalist. I’m not. Nowhere on my blog does it say I am. People do not come to me as a primary source of information. I merely shared a link with minimal commenting – only to provide context for whether or not the reader wanted to click through and judge for himself or herself.

    I hope people question the things they read on my blog. I hope they question the things they read on YOUR blog. I hope they question everything they hear from any source, anytime, anywhere, no matter how established it is. Don’t you?

    Like

  26. Ed Darrell says:

    Sure. Which site?

    Like

  27. Martha D. says:

    One of the sites you listed, also mentioned it was a hoax. May I suggest you get your facts straight, as well?

    Like

  28. Mike – as the owner of “Argghhh!” I’ll defend myself against your generalization “…added that if it were true it would just confirm their suspicions.”

    I said – “President Obama is many things, and will no doubt do many things that will annoy me. But this isn’t one of them. This is bogus, and good lord, people, generating bogus carp like this to slander the President just makes you look *stupid* and makes it easier for serious people who might otherwise be supportive brush you off like a flake of dandruff.”

    I will note that while I was doing some fact-checking before putting up my piece, Snopes didn’t have it up yet. I checked – Snopes is my first stop when I read the “too good/bad to be true emails I get.

    As for those of you whacking the wingnuts (and rightly) I must observe the moonbats ran with their share of BDS tripe too.

    We’ll all be better off when we recognize both sides have crazy relatives we wish we could hide in the carriage house out back. No one has a lock on looney.

    Like

  29. Scott Hanley says:

    Wow. I’m pretty effin’ partisan about hating the GOP sometimes, but if you had told me that story about George Bush, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second.

    Like

  30. Ed Darrell says:

    So, LSU, you’re saying wingnuts can’t tell that a non-governmental, rip-off coin painting operation isn’t a part of the government, even though the site expressly notes that? They can’t tell it’s not an Obama site, just because it has a photo of Obama on it?

    It’s difficult to believe people are really that stupid.

    Like

  31. [...] Wing nuts are idiots I am not making this up: many wingnuts believe that President Obama had the military retake the oath and to swear allegiance to him, instead of the nation. [...]

    Like

  32. blueollie says:

    “why did so many people buy into it”

    Because so many wingnuts are complete idiots? ;)

    Like

  33. Ed Darrell says:

    I cannot tell you why people buy into things that are completely unbelievable. That’s not the fault of this blog, mous.

    Like

  34. Anonymous says:

    If it’s “totally unbelievable,” why did so many people buy into it. Your blog sucks.

    Like

  35. LSU says:

    you missed me. I used this as an example of hoaxes last night.

    As for the Obama coin rumour, this may have sparked it.

    Like

  36. Ed Darrell says:

    Poe blog? No, I don’t think so — my friends at Landover Baptist insist it’s the real stuff — they were close enough to the Capitol to hear the cannons.

    Just not close enough to hear the canon.

    /satire

    Like

  37. blueollie says:

    If you want to have a real belly laugh, check out this post on a “Poe” blog called liberalsmustdie

    By the way, a “poe” blog is one that is a satire on fundamentalism; the name comes from “Poe’s law” which says that the fundies (and the wingnuts) are so whacked that it is all but impossible to tell satire from seriousness.

    Like

  38. Mike says:

    Even the ones that “got” that it was satire added that if it were true it would just confirm their suspicions. There are a lot of paranoid conservatives on the internets.

    Like

  39. zhoen says:

    A Modest Proposal, Swift.

    Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    Occasionally, waves of people still take both as fact, not satire, not fiction. Because it fits their slant on reality, and they so want it to be real, to reinforce their belief.

    Like

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