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A friend of mine dropped into the workshop yesterday with some worrying news.
Apparently, there's a huge planet (larger than Jupiter) headed our way and it's going to cause all sorts of disasters and mayhem on the surface of the earth.
He was adamant that this was going to happen -- because he'd seen it on "the news".
I queried "what news?"
"Oh, on the internet"
"Which news site on the internet?" I asked
"All of them"
Of course at this stage I had a pretty good idea what he was talking about.
He told me the planet was something that started with 'N' and I asked "Niribu?"
"Yeah, something like that" he replied.
I then spent quite some time explaining to him that this is just a load of BS and that we're not in any danger from this mythical rogue planet.
"Surely, if this planet is headed towards earth and due to arrive in a matter of months, NASA would have spotted it" I challenged.
"They have" he responded.
At this point, I realised he'd probably watched this YouTube video:
What a load of disinformation and crap.
Towards the end of our conversation, I think I'd allayed some of his fears and perhaps been able to introduce at least a little skepticism into his mind -- but he remained unconvinced that I was wrong and that we weren't due to be assaulted by Niribu sometime in the very near future
Sadly, this situation shows just how dangerous it is to let some people loose unsupervised on the Internet.
There are a huge number of others who, either deliberately or because they have a brain the size of a pea, who seek to deceive others by way of web-pages, videos or other "evidence".
Anyone can grab a decent video editor, a bunch of stock footage and spend a few hours coming up with some seemingly credible footage that can create whatever perception you want.
The video above is a great example of this. The very long-bows drawn by the video (above) will immediately be discounted by anyone with a decent level of skepticism and an understanding of the science involved. Sadly however, there is a huge chunk of the general population who do not question what they read or watch. These are the people who are at risk from the crap that purports to be objective information but which is actually exactly the opposite.
It is a sad indictment on mankind that so many of us are so vulnerable to this type of disinformation -- and also that there are so many who would engage in its production.
I guess this vulnerability in so many and the willing to exploit it by a few, explains why we have crazy cult religions popping up with regular monotony.
Might it be time to teach skepticism as a subject in our secondary schools?
Or, is it too late. Have we become a people who are now just too used to being drip-fed information which has been manipulated, shaped and filtered to suit the agendas of those who control those feeds?
Your thoughts please -- in the forums.
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