When the internet first came around, it seemed the ultimate resource for research was available to anyone. All the facts you could ever want at your fingertips, and with the next step it all went portable on everyone’s phone – never will you be somewhere that you can’t quickly doublecheck the capital of Mongolia. Trivia contests in bars make rules policing cell phone use. Otherwise, the players in mere seconds could find every answer - from who pitched the final inning of the 1978 World Series to who was the vice president in Teddy Roosevelt’s first term.
But, hold on a second, the promise of unfettered information has and is being sidetracked by delusional, criminal and misguided people who either knowingly, sarcastically or for malicious intent put out content that is blatantly false.
As evidence of how for every informative source there is an anti-fact posted, consider the following information that can all be verified on the internet:
• On 9/11 – there are no shortage of websites and discussion that will tell you the United States government was actively involved in the planes (though some say there weren’t even planes but bombs) that crashed into New York and Washington. Note, this is not some indirect link they claim or oversight in security, but that American government agencies actually carried out the attack.
• The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was either carried out by Israeli death squads who were angered by something the government did or by gun control proponents wanting a horrific incident to build support for more federal regulations.
• A poor kid in the future researching a term paper would find numerous sites that claim the president was born in Kenya, not America.
• You can find where a high school student made $72 million in the stock market and was named to Business Insider’s 20 under 20 – except it actually didn’t happen. The kid did well in a simulated game of stock trading, but not the real thing. The teen became a social media darling until it was revealed he didn’t really make the money.
• A black supporter of Donald Trump was killed at a rally in Chicago by protesters last week. Didn’t happen.
• Alien Abductions – there are websites that note they only include “true”accounts of alien abductions.
• You can also find the Bigfoot Field Research Organization, which has “investigators.” On this site, you can read about a Bigfoot encounter that occurred between Nelson and Tate in 2008 when two motorists saw a Bigfoot cross the road. We never heard a local account.
• And (the most entertaining recent internet claim) Stevie Wonder is not really blind. The 65-year-old singer has been faking it all these years.
The idea of conspiracy theories and alternative explanations for events is entertaining and in most cases harmless, it is certainly nothing new – pre-internet people were already questioning whether Hollywood had produced a fake moon landing for NASA.
Does it really matter if people believe man has still not really walked on the moon? Probably not.
But when it is with criminal-intent is where it’s not so funny. We still regularly report cases where elderly Pickens residents are swindled by something that arrived in an e-mail or something they saw on Facebook or a website.
Ask yourself if none of the above are true, why would that offer to get rich quick or taking off the pounds or about rolling back your biological clock be any more valid?