Posted by: Jim | May 7, 2009

Why Skepticism is Good

About 10 years ago, I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers about some of the crazy thing you read about people on the internet. He seemed particularly prone to believe anything he found there. I admonished him to be more skeptical, and suggested that just because something had been found in print does not make it true.

Soon I excused myself to get back to my desk to ostensibly work. In about five minutes, I pounded out an “urban legend” and inserted a few items into my story that would: 

1)       Make it believable and

2)       Make people want to tell the story

Simple.

I printed it out, and walked it back to my friend, tossed it on his desk and said “wow, look at THIS one I just found.” He read it, laughed, and said, “I believe it!”

“Of course you do,” I said. “But I just wrote it.” 

He believed it because he wanted to believe it. He believed it because it had some really believable elements in it. He could identify in some small way with the protagonist’s illness, but it made him feel superior to the poor bloke because he was able to control himself better. Plus, the story indicated that there is some grand retribution against someone who allows their predilections to go too far, which makes him  feel better about repressing his  predilections. It is so easy to prey on these simple human desires. 

As a goof, I submitted the story to the Darwin Awards and promptly forgot about it.

But the story doesn’t end there. About five years later I got a chain e-mail from a friend that showed “This year’s Darwin Award winners.” I could not help but look and sure enough—there it was! I have never been more amused about something I wrote. I then forgot all about it again, and today I decided to Google it.

My story has published 255 times on the internet. Each publication presents it as true. 

If you want to see it, follow this link. http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=%22Officer+Hradj%22&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=

Google wanted to correct my search, so ignore the first few “Officer Hardy” references. Follow any link that quotes “Officer Hradj.”

It pays not to believe everything you read. Sometimes people do purposefully try to pull one over on you.

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Responses

  1. Great advice!

  2. I don’t believe you.

  3. churk wins the thread.

  4. LOL Churk.

    (Always a pleasure to see your name pop up.)

  5. I don’t believe I should’nt believe that. And I do not mean the story about the story, but the make up itself.

    Stay Skeptical.


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