They really should pass a law against those parody news sites. Not so long ago it was a pro-life blogger who fell for an Onion story about a girl who was looking forward to have "the best non-anesthetized invasive uterine surgery ever". And now it seems "God is for Suckers!" fell for a story about "Aleta Smith", who donated a kidney and now want it back because the recipient is no longer a Christian. The story is from LarkNews.com, which, in a disclaimer at the bottom of the page, writes: "LarkNewsÂ® is a satirical newspaper published by Joel Kilpatrick."
From the fake news article:
"I feel helpless," [Aletha Smith] says. "Part of my body, my DNA, is stuck inside a person who's going to hell."
Smith suffers nightmares of her former organ filtering "strange Asian teas, pig blood and witch doctor brews in Africa," she says. She wonders if the Lord really wanted her to donate the kidney, or if she acted on a "triple-espresso high" she had that morning. She is also concerned that when her body is resurrected, it might be incomplete.
One might think that a statement about someone deciding to donate organs on a "triple-espresso high" would have aroused the blogger's suspicion, but alas, that opportunity was wasted.
It is easy to revel in the screw-ups of others, relieved that it was someone else that got snookered. Indeed, here at Telic Thoughts we have also bought into news stories that later turned out to be unreliable. To err is human, and all that stuff. So let me use this unfortunate blogger's mistake as an opportunity to discuss a larger issue. A recent article in Scientific American described some interesting research in confirmation bias, "whereby we seek and find confirmatory evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignore or reinterpret disconfirmatory evidence." It seems that when evaluating statements by politicians, people with strong political beliefs turn off the reasoning center of their brain, relying instead on the center which govern emotions. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones," one of the authors of the study said.
If you believe that people would only want to have an abortion because they enjoyed the procedure, you are likely to accept a story about a girl who is "totally psyched" about her first abortion. And if you see all Christians as delusional people, you run the risk of getting burned on a story about a lady who is afraid that her kidney is becoming pagan. And if you are a scientist who think that intelligent design is dangerous nonsense… might that also affect the way you evaluate ID arguments?
That humans err is trivial; knowing why we do is what enables us to move beyond our limitations.