It's interesting how willing we are to believe something outlandish if it lines up with what we already believe.
On the other hand, we'll resist anything that challenges that belief system -- no matter how reasonable it might sound in another context.
Have we reached the point where facts don't count for anything? Is scoring points against your opponent is all that matters?
A recent example of the phenomenon is the cost of Obama's trip to India. To people who are already convinced Obama is a spendthrift, it's an easy jump to believe an unsubstantiated price tag of $200 million per day.
No wonder people are upset. That's an outrageous tab. At least, it would be if it were an accurate number.
In the days of analog, before the digital era, there was a story that likened gossip to releasing a bag of feathers on a windy day, then trying to gather them all. The moral was that once you start a lie about someone, you can't go back and completely repair the damage, even if you wanted to.
And that was before the advent of the Internet.
With technology, we can update this little parable.
Rather than a bag of feathers, let's use an anonymous tip, someone's blog or even Wikipedia. Instead of a windy day we'll just toss the rumor onto the information superhighway.
True or false, verified or not -- there is no way anybody is getting that genie back in the bottle.
It's not necessary to be the president or even a public figure to fall victim.
Now that many people have a video camera on their cell phones, what would have been an embarrassing moment soon forgotten or perhaps never even noticed can go viral on the Internet.
Whether it's the cost of Obama's trip to India or the "Don't taze me, bro" video, the script's the same. 1) Shock. 2) Outrage. 3) Apology or correction. 4) Continued outrage at initial shock.
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