An age of deception

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The Internet is the source of a plethora of information, and with the explosion of  smart phones, the world is literally at your fingertips. Directions to your grandmother’s house, Aaron Rogers’ career passing yards and a synopsis of The Cave by Plato are available within seconds. Yet we live in an age of misinformation.

Full of disclaimers and fine print, advertising has to be one of society’s greatest sources of false information. The distortion of truth has spilled over to the once objective profession of journalism. In the last decade, different news agencies were guilty of manipulating photos.

In 2006 Reuters published a photo of the aftermath of a bombing in Beirut. The picture was altered to make the smoke darker.

A similar case of manipulation was Time’s darkening of O.J. Simpson’s mugshot in 1994. Along with the manipulation of photos, some stories are fabricated as well.

In a 2004 broadcast, former CBS anchor Dan Rather purportedly used forged documents that discredited Bush’s involvement during the Vietnam War. Another journalist, Janet Cooke, completely fabricated a story about an 8-year-old boy who was addicted to heroin.

Hoaxes persist through society,  but many of them are anecdotal. One of the most famous is the story of the NASA space pen.

The gist of the tale is that NASA needed a pen that could write in a zero gravity environment, so they spent millions of dollars developing the instrument. The Russian space program simply solved the problem by using a pencil.

The truth is that around a million dollars were spent in developing a “space pen,” but it was developed by a private company. The pen was then sold to NASA at roughly $2.95 per pen and eventually to the Russians as well.

Using a pencil in a zero gravity environment is actually dangerous because if it were to break, shards would be floating through the cabin.

It is common knowledge that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon. However, it is not common knowledge that this claim is false. In fact, no man-made object on the earth is visible from the moon.

Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut, said, “The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white, some blue and patches of yellow, and every once in a while some green vegetation.”

The truth about these tall tales is readily available, yet the myths persist. In some cases the myth is more romantic than the truth. Once a story has been told, it will be passed around, and it is difficult to undo the damage.

As the quantity of information has increased, the overall quality has decreased. Truth has been forced into the back seat by relevancy and appeal.

Hoaxes and lies have always been a part of history. But even though the power of information has been passed through to the masses, it is still mismanaged.

We must be more diligent than ever in discerning the truth. The information age has brought some great advancements, but the misinformation age has raised generation after generation of skeptics.

 

Author: Ethan Mitra

Bio info coming soon!

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