The burden of proof

"90% of all quotes on the internet are made up" - Abraham Lincoln.

 I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to leave that statement as a comment on Facebook. Consider this Facebook "forward", if you will:


 It is attributed to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam because it suits the narrative that my friend wants to believe in. A lot of you will probably doubt if Dr. Kalam ever said that. I suspect (actually, fervently hope) that my friend who posted this also had a flicker of doubt the source. But he went ahead and posted it anyway.

 That is what scares me the most. People are willing to "forward" anything that tickles their funny bone. I have grumbled about silly email forwards before. But Facebook takes it to a whole new level. This time, you don't even need to fill out the "To:" field. You can just "share" it on your timeline and people will read it. I am surprised at the incredible gullibility of people, and sometimes just feel ashamed that they are my friends. How stupid can you be, if you have really commented "Jump" on this one:
Look at that - 69,094 comments out of which I bet 69,000 are "Jump". About 700 people thought this was worth sharing on their Wall, and about ten times that number actually like this photo+caption.

 There will always be lone crusaders like me, perhaps, demanding proof of outlandish claims of snake oils and hot air. There are some, like me, who actually visit the source of a rumor to verify authenticity. But there will always be ten times that number who will forwarding and posting these things without question. I wish my friends were smart enough to not belong to those who forward. Alas, I sometimes feel outnumbered ten-to-one, and the battles are sometimes just not worth fighting. When it is Dr. Kalam endorsing mass bunks, that is still acceptable. But when you stop verifying your facts, then you'll also begin to believe harmful rumors and spread the word around without realizing what you are doing - don't you remember Dr. Kalam asking all OBCs to leave the country?

 If you are reading this post and have been guilty of the above forwards even once, please stop doing that. You are diluting your own brand value. I usually think thrice before believing anything you post. And you know what, Google is your friend! If in doubt (even the slightest), please check before posting. When you post something, you endorse it (no really, you do!!). Find what the word "endorse" means. Actually, on this blog, simply double-clicking any word will do - go ahead, seriously, try it! 

 And please - Dr. Kalam did not use the word "coz" or say anything of that nature. Swami Vivekananda did not ask you to give up meat. And one "Like" on a picture of an ailing baby will not make Facebook donate a dollar to the kid's parents. Grow some wits, please!

Comments

  1. What used to be forwarded by e-mail in those days are now being posted on FaceBook walls. Of course, it's got more dramatic these days. E-mail forwards used to be tame compared to some of these FaceBook postings.

    I find them mildly amusing. Especially the ones that are posted for tongue in cheek effect.

    I don't know how a majority of people still think "if it's on the interwebs it must be true." LOL

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    1. You are right - but the incredible gullibility of these folks is simply amazing. My friends... whew! Wonder what Papa Hari has to say about this :P

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  2. Isn't this part of the universal dumbing down?
    You see in such forwards and shares, and you see it play out time and time again on the stock market when people happily buy into ponzi schemes or invest in emus/ goats/ teak.

    Maybe this is the new interpretation of Darwin's survival of the fittest.

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    1. Austere, welcome (back?) to the blog. I wouldn't call this necessarily dumbing down, but the fact that people aren't willing to get smart as fast as the rest of the world is. Survival of the fittest indeed... Nigerian ex bank treasurers must be at the top! :D

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  4. Second you on

    "90% of all quotes on the internet are made up" - Abraham Lincoln. :P

    But what is more disturbing is the amazing number of posts on social causes with disturbingly misleading images/ fake background stories. Just wonder what motivates people who do it. I feel it has come down to this. Even notion of virtue needs a lie to be assimilated in the society.

    For instance :
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=375580742516620&set=a.188973934510636.47113.100001940916901&type=1&theater

    Truth:
    http://www.andhrafriends.com/topic/343851-must-see-this-really/#entry1302583483

    Still scrating my head over the motivation. A scam for what??

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