The greatest irony of this article is that it applies to me more than anybody.
I wanted to start off with a quote from Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Adolf Hitler:
‘If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.’
I’d intended to use it to illustrate my point about ‘fake news’ and not believing everything you read online. But upon doing some research, I found that there’s no proof Goebbels ever said such a thing. Though the quote certainly has weight and a deeper meaning in the internet age, there’s no proof that the propagandist ever said such a thing.
It’s definitely easy to spread false information in 2017. With one click of the ‘Share’ button, a video, article or image can be shared to possibly thousands of people. And people aren’t often taking it upon themselves to research the validity of everything they see – after all, it can be time consuming and sometimes cause even more confusion.
In my article, ‘ Tunnel Of Light: The Science Of Near Death Experiences’, I made reference to a ISIS fighter who converted to Christianity after seeing Jesus at the gates of Heaven. When I did so, I was trying to illustrate the varying stories told by people who have near death experiences.
However, looking deeper into the site I retrieved that story from, I’ve definitely come to doubt it’s validity. WorldNewsDaily is a website that runs stories with outrageous headlines. Here’s some samplings:
‘BABYSITTER TRANSPORTED TO HOSPITAL ATFER INSERTING A BABY IN HER VAGINA’
‘ARGENTINA: 128-YEAR OLD MAN CLAIMS HE IS ADOLF HITLER’
‘MAN FRESH OUT OF COMA COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER LEARNING TRUMP IS PRESIDENT’
‘WOMAN ARRESTED FOR TRAINING SQUIRRELS TO ATTACK HER EX-BOYFRIEND’
The website even notes in it’s own disclaimer – ‘WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle’. (1)
So yes, I had been hoodwinked. As are the many people who share the articles on Facebook, apparently.
But there are other false stories being spread around the internet, and some of them aren’t being addressed. So I figured this was my best way of putting the truth out on there. Take it or leave it.
Theresa May And The Pedophiles
This one is most frequently appearing on my Facebook timeline, mostly shared by people who don’t like the Prime Minister. That’s fair enough, I have my own gripes with her and some of her policies. However, the connotations associated with this story are false.
A December 2010 article from The Telegraph is often being circulated, with the headline ‘ Sex offenders including pedophiles should be allowed to adopt, Theresa May told’. Often it’s shared with a caption saying something negative about May, implying they haven’t read the article. It seems as if they saw ‘Theresa May’ and ‘Pedophiles’ in the same sentence, and linked the two.
The article doesn’t even mention any opinions of May’s in relation to the issue of sex offenders adopting. Rather, it revolves around Helen Reece, who was campaigning for a change in adoption laws in the UK, that would allow sex offenders to adopt children.
Reece cited an incident in which a grandfather was unable to adopt his grandchildren (After the deaths of their parents) because he’d previously been charged with a sex crime – having sex with a 15 year old girl when he was 29 years old.
Nowhere in the article does May agree with Reece’s campaign. She’s barely even mentioned, really only serving as a recognizable face to catch the reader’s eye.
But the article is spreading like wildfire, with many coming to believe that the Prime Minister is trying to bend the laws so that pedophiles can adopt children. There’s fair ground for criticism, but this isn’t one of them.
This is just one of the many stories that has been misconstrued, misinterpreted or downright exaggerated. Of course there are many others, but far too many to mention.
With this article, I hope to emphasize the importance of independent research and thought. Be willing to read the other side’s arguments, to look beyond the headlines and to see the truth in the story.