If something is too good to be true, it probably is ... propaganda
We’ve all gotten those chain emails. You know -- the ones that offer a scoop that happens to be exactly what we’re looking for, or exactly what someone else may be looking for. Maybe it’s the report that comes from your evolutionist friend that archeologists have found an irrefutable missing link. Or perhaps it’s the report from your creationist friend that mainstream scientists are trying to cover up a new discovery that confirms a literal interpretation of Genesis. Then again, maybe its that email sent from a right-wing coworker that includes a picture of a young Obama at a Muslim rally. Or its evidence from your liberal friend that Michelle Bachman once said she wants to set up a theocracy.
You get the idea… the kind of allegations that end up on Snopes.com. The missing link turns out to be a fabrication … the new discovery turns out to be old evidence that was disproved two decades ago … the picture of Obama turns out to be photo shopped … and the Bachman connections to theocratic aspirations just aren’t true. The fact is, if we have strong feelings about politics, religion, or some other issue, its hard not to be attracted to something that seems to confirm precisely what we already believe … and want others to believe, even if it means we bypass the healthy dose of skepticism that ought to be there.
Well, its campaign season, and so another round of urban legends have begun. For example, have you heard that GOP presidential candidate, Rick Perry, has financial ties to the porn industry? For liberals who can't seem to stomach Christian conservatives, this seems too good to be true. And … it basically is. For more on this, see a recent piece by David McElroy, a former political advisor who has ditched politics altogether. I don’t necessary agree with McElroy about his radical rejection of American politics, but his piece, Dishonesty Runs Rampant when Partisanship Matters more than Truth, is refreshingly on the mark. Here’s a snippet:
The sick and twisted truth about human nature that we don’t want to realize: People are much more interested in accepting something that supports what they already believe than in finding out the truth. No party has a monopoly on this, because it seems to be human nature.