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Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Beauty of Self-Delusion on Social Media or Gee, Thought I Was Smarter Than That

Recently, a friend posted an article about Scientology’s non-profit status being revoked and I had to admit, I was intrigued. I clicked on the link that took me to ABC News. More accurately, it took me to a site called ABC News with the url A number of things jumped out at me.

The logo was a lackluster black and white version of the ABC logo we now know and the article was pretty weirdly written. It had the surface look of a legitimate piece of reporting but after reading through it, I wondered why ABC would print it and why wasn’t there a video attached to it, I wondered if the writer was drunk. The more I read it, the more I wondered why this topic wasn’t in my newsfeed. I went to Snopes and sure enough, the article was bogus.

Then reality kicked in more. Looking at the overall structure of the page and the site, it started to deconstruct quickly! Appearance: really stupid ads that I’m sure are not part of ABC-approved sponsors and general lackluster (that word again) layout. Too unsophisticated and static. Content: clickbate! Woohoo! Donald Trump tweets a picture of his dick! NSFW!!! This doesn't seem very much like the American Broadcasting Company I know...

Got me good. Who the hell is this that has the balls to run a page that practically screams lawsuit? I clicked on Contact and got this:


Address: 3701 SW 12th St, Topeka, KS 66604

Phone:(785) 273-0325

For the record, the image is labelled Fred Phelps obit.jpg and the address is the Westboro Baptist Church. Now I was laughing my ass off!

Scrolling down more on the contact page brings this gem:


“Dr.” Paul Horner is one of the premier geniuses of the interwebz when it comes to pranking the net with fake news and skewering people’s expectations. I love this guy. Well, I hate him when I fall for it (not really; it reminds me to check my assumptions and basically, admit to being as easily duped as the next person) and love him when I don’t. 'Cuz I think it's funny...easily duped, easily amused.

If you’re not familiar with “Dr.” Horner, please head over here:

In the meantime, I realize this is the second time in three days that I’ve fallen or almost fallen for fake news. Friday, a friend posted on Facebook this picture:


I won’t bore with too many details, but for more information, off with you now to Snopes:

But what I will bore with you is that we’re all too primed to accept at face value that which we agree with. This is basic Buddhist epistemology and Psych 101. I like to pride myself that I’m not one to get carried away by everything I read/see/hear, particularly on the wonderful world wide web. However, I’d be lying if I said it never happened!

These are two great examples and as much as I’d like to find out that Scientology had its non-profit status revoked or that Trump’s followers are so clueless and tone-deaf to produce racist t-shirts, after a little bit of reflection and consideration, it begins to dawn that one’s preconceptions are driven by one’s own bias.

Whether on the right or the left (or in the middle!), atheist or believer, and so on down the line, it’s utterly fantastic - in the truest sense of the word - how easily we are led by our own projections. It’s sometimes disturbing how much we base our lives on preconceived notions and then find out that, whoops, missed that one. For me, this serves as a reminder to think again, observe again, and more deeply, next time.