What objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an “open mind”, but an active mind — a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically.~Ayn Rand
Urban legends are a huge anti-favorite of mine. Sometimes, I feel like half of my time on Facebook is correcting blatantly erroneous memes.
Here is a sampling of the recent ones: ( Collapse )
With the existence, for many years now, of TV shows like “MythBusters” and websites like Snopes.com, I do not understand why our culture seems to be getting worse at spreading such viral nonsense instead of better.
I do not mean to come across as “holier-than-thou” about this. For one, I myself have been duped more than enough times — including several of the above initially, before I researched them. No one likes to learn that he or she has been deceived. Part of my anger at the phenomenon of urban legends is seeing so many of my friends and family victimized by lies and deceit.
“But these things are all harmless,” you may say. “What does it matter whether people believe these things or not? What does it matter if some of them contain ‘little white lies’?” I think this issue is more important than that. Beyond the simple matter of no one liking to be deceived, I feel that there are a few other issues worth raising: ( Collapse )
I should point out that not all legends end up being false. (I highly recommend a visit to the nearest Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum as a demonstration of this.) Truth is often, after all, stranger than fiction. Do not reject anything outright that seems unbelievable, but at least take the time to analyze it.
I also should point out that if I spread a false urban legend, I myself may not be lying, but I am still spreading a lie. The intent is (much) better, but the result is (sadly) the same, despite my good intentions. It is one thing to be deceived; it is quite another thing to then spread that deceit around for others to be deceived, so I should be more careful.
I will summarize this entry with the following statement: If our BS-detectors are so off that we cannot detect an obviously Photoshopped grisly bear in a tent, how are we going to detect the political spew coming out of the mouths of Democrats and Republicans or the over- and under-hyped “news” from a media who care far more about ratings and money than about truth? Please, dear readers, let us all have “active minds”. not “open” ones. Let us show a little skepticism where warranted. Let us not help the spread of falsehood.
Let us care about truth again.
(Click here for a full list of my entries on urban legends.)
AppendixSeriously, everyone should have this webpage bookmarked for reference: