Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Snopes Bombing Ineffective Against the Bunker of Predefined Narrative

A large contributor to the Social Catastrophe is how little facts and truth matter to people who are in the process of validating or reinforcing their biases. Everyone is susceptible to accepting stories with less examination when they confirm what they already believe. That doesn't mean we are all equally bad at this, however, as this post is about to illustrate!

Dumb Guy shared Shady Person's photo
"How fast can u repost" almost makes this shared photo seem like a test to see who is most willing to suspend their critical faculties the quickest. It is also some of the worst kind of "Culture Warrior" garbage. Am I only supposed to boycott these particular cans, but not Pepsi as a whole? Given all of the messed up shit in this world, am I honestly supposed to care if a company uses the pre-1954 Pledge? Why is any of this supposed to matter in any way?

These questions all crossed my mind when I read this (among others), but they all presume one thing: That this forwarded chain letter was even true in the first place. Of course, it is not true. Pepsi never produced any such cans. This is a sad phenomenon I call "multiple levels of fucked up and wrong". You post something which is false as if it were true. Furthermore, even if it was true, you would still be a tool for more than one reason. This is a dire place to be. I had to respond!

This is incorrect. The facts show that this is simply not true:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/undergod.asp

Sure, I am being very straight forward. Maybe I could have been a bit nicer about it. Let us consider some possible responses he might have to my debunking correction post:

1. He simply ignores it, and the whole embarrassing post fades into the history of everyone's Facebook streams. This is the option I expected him to take.
2. Embarrassed by the revelation that he has been taken in by a chain letter, he removes his re-post of this chain letter from the feed. I would be OK with this option, had he taken it.
3. He responds to me aggressively, either disagreeing with the facts or my tone. I wasn't expecting this to happen.
4. He responds positively with something along the lines of, "Oops! My bad!" That is a decent option.

Instead he took the saddest option of all:

5. He deletes my post containing the debunking of this false letter, while keeping his post up like nothing happened. 

When facts interfered with his narrative, he made the conscious decision to ignore the facts. That is some immature "The Dog Ate My Homework" level shit right there! Still, just because my post disappeared... I don't want to embarrass myself by accusing him when it may have been a computer glitch. Also, maybe I'll deliver it with a better tone. So, yes! I replied again!

Hey, it looks like this might be a myth: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/undergod.asp

See! I'm using more informal and softer language. It "might" be a myth, but hey, maybe its true? I've got to make that pill easy to swallow. At this point, I think any of my previous options could be his response again. Additionally, I feel there is a chance he would... "unfriend" me. That would make me sad, because he provides so much good material. He follows up with #5, deleting my post a second time.

Two times is no accident. Oh no! My animal man-brain has been activated! I am filled with a feeling of righteous anger! I'm going to escalate the confrontation! Fortunately, I was not packing a gun:

The fact that you deleted my debunking link twice is intellectually dishonest and shameful. We should strive to spread truth and not perpetuate myths contained in chain letters. If you believe I am wrong, I am open to the evidence. The chain letter you are re-posting is both false and over 10 years old. 
If you had let my comment stand, replied to it, or even removed your re-post, that's all fine. Deleting my posts while letting yours stand seems to say that you think building or maintaining a predefined narrative is more important than the truth, and that is not cool. http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/undergod.asp 
I realize that I am being impolite in continuing to post. Normally I would take the hint from a post deletion and move on. I just think that perpetuating false stories that reinforce our biases is toxic to the national dialogue. We end up arguing over false things rather than real things, which leads to a lot of unproductive noise.
I have no idea if that was a good or bad thing for me to have done. I think that people passing phony BS around makes the world a shittier place. People start making decisions and shaping their politics around this creaking edifice of lies and false information. It seems that the default suggestion is "Just forget about it. People are stupid, and you aren't going to change that." Well, that is just too depressing. It reminds me of a time in my early 20s I told my parents about a guy who thought dinosaurs were a hoax. They responded with, "Of course he does. He's a preacher." 


There is never a situation where I should assume that someone believes dinosaurs are a hoax. I would rather act as if people were not idiots and be disappointed. On the internet, an atheist who assumes preachers think dinosaurs are a hoax gets called out for arguing against a caricature of Christianity that isn't true. So, savvy internet debating will have you treat the issues separately even if they are sometimes connected. No need to confuse the culturally Christian Deist "Prime Mover" guy with the guy thrashing around on the ground, handling snakes and going on about Obama, the Mark of the Beast and the UN Helicopters.

Speaking of...


So, after the previous events this individual left my final comments up without response, interestingly. Maybe he had learned his lesson and would do a little basic research before blindly posting things that are embarrassingly false. That would be awesome.

Uh oh... wait.  This isn't good!

Dumb Guy shared The Australian Tea Party's photo. 
Yeah right in your own state

My first response to this post was, "There is an Australian Tea Party?" My next response was, "You know what? I'll bet this didn't even happen in Dearborn. Let me check." For those of you reading who don't know me personally, I live in Michigan and Dearborn is down by Detroit and is somewhat known for its immigrant community. It turns out my suspicion was correct. This picture is not from Dearborn at all. Time to correct this guy again:

This picture is from Afghanistan, not Dearborn Michigan. This is from a rally held in Kabul on October 25th, 2009. Whoever captioned this picture was misinformed or is lying: http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/10/25/shots-fired-to-disperse-afghan-koran-protest-in-kabul/
Imagine being a Muslim who fled Iran to escape the Ayatollah's oppression, then being falsely accused of spreading "terrorist ideas" by strangers using pictures of Afghans in Kabul, lying and presenting them as images of people in your neighborhood in Dearborn. That's gotta be pretty depressing. Bleh.

Dumb Guy sadly responds exactly as he did before, by deleting my correction post and leaving his up as if nothing were amiss. He has shown a failure to learn both that a lot of shit on Facebook is unreliable, and that I am capable of noticing that he deleted my post and have shown a willingness to be persistent. He is resistant to engaging in any dialog, yet also resistant to "unfriending" me. Anyway, after noticing his deletion of my post, I post again:

Again, you have deleted a comment correcting a falsehood you are perpetrating. This picture is false. It says, "Hello! This is Dearbornistan, Michigan." It is not. It is in fact Kabul, Afghanistan, as described in this Reuters article: http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/10/25/shots-fired-to-disperse-afghan-koran-protest-in-kabul/
Pictures like this mischaracterize and further inflame hatred. In fact, commenters on this picture call for Muslims to be rounded up and bombed and call for other acts of genocide. This is clearly repulsive. They tell them to "go home" when the Muslims in the picture are actually at home... in Afghanistan! The fact that their comments are being triggered by a picture which is itself a lie makes this kind of primitive, bloodthirsty, tribalistic and otherwise awful behavior even more frustrating. Again... bleh... just, why?

We've all seen these people, the kind I am describing who left comments on the photo from the originating "Australian Tea Party" site. The kind of angry, conspiratorial people who unfairly and ignorantly stereotype a billion people as terrorist and go on about how they need their guns, and how all of these members of the out group need to be stopped or perhaps even completely killed and wiped out. They are walking next to us everyday in our communities, they are in our families.

When someone mentions rounding up and bombing entire populations, I find that kind of talk to be alarming. It is sadly common, however. "Oh, you know Uncle Bob, he's just a little conservative"  No, Uncle Bob is one of a million little piss-ant Hitlers, oiling up his gun and dreaming of genocide, who sees nothing wrong with saying it publicly at a family function. Maybe he's all talk. At the very least, he is all asshole. This isn't even hypothetical, I have personally had extended family members call for "glassing" an entire country, 3 dudes amicably chatting it over as if they were having a reasonable discussion on current affairs. Horrifying.

So, there is me raging a bit about those kinds of folks. What actually came of any of this? Well, finally, this person has disappeared from my Facebook feed. He both "unfriended" and blocked me. He never once said a word to me. I have no doubt that his behavior of posting factually inaccurate posts will continue, and his response to those pointing out those inaccuracies will be for him to continue to stick his head in the sand, weeding out those who bother him so he can maintain his comfortable world-view unchallenged.

This is the Social Catastrophe.

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