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

January 31, 2009

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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