Saturday, 9 August 2014

What if everything you read on the internet was true?

Browsing through my Facebook news feed is usually a boring experience: seeing my friends enjoying their holidays, learning the dull news that someone's pregnant or getting married, and finding out that my brother has eaten a pizza and it tasted good.

Luckily there are times when I come across some fascinating information that someone has shared, with bold captions and exclamation marks!!!, warning about the latest threat of killer budgies, which has been discovered through no research whatsoever.

My typical response is to do a quick Google, find the link to at the top of the search results, and share it so that they no longer have to worry about such things.  Unfortunately this is not usually (actually never) met with, "Thanks Stephen.  I was so worried about the deadly budgerigars that I locked myself in a cage for a week with a bowl of water and a slice of toast.  Your diligence in finding out that the information was baloney is the best thing that has ever happened to me."  Instead I tend to simply annoy people and make them dislike me.

So, in the interest of making the world a slightly more pleasant place, I've decided to give in and agree that everything one reads on the internet is true.

Here are a list of 10 simple patterns to look out for on the internet in order to find truth:

#1.  If it says "SHARE THIS WITH ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!," or some variation thereof, please do!

Every single paranoid claim on the internet is true.  The world needs more paranoid people, and by sharing every single scary sounding claim, especially those that tell you to share them (you must obey), you can make the world a better place.

This is due to the following rule of thumb...

#2.  Extraordinary claims don't require proper evidence.

Consider the newspaper.  It's a useful piece of equipment, which can be used for covering the floor when you're painting, can be rolled up and used for playing duster hockey, or even for wrapping presents to give to children you don't like.  This marvellous piece of equipment doesn't contain anything that anyone needs to know, and therefore chances are that any desperately shareworthy piece of information that has a shred of evidence attached to it has neither been published in the newspaper nor been on the news and since no-one knows what you know,  everyone needs to know about it through you.

#3.  It contradicts what most experts say on the matter.

There is always only one side to a story.  It is the side that you happen to read first.  Don't ever look for an alternative angle, because it will be wrong.

The true side of the story also happens to be the one guy who made an amazing discovery that no-one else could replicate and is not what the majority of experts have to say.

#4.  No reference to a neutral, trustworthy source.

Many statements shared on Facebook consist simply of some text with or without a picture.  Regardless of whether or not it actually references a source, if it has some statistics included, just believe it.

If it does reference a source, ignore the source.  It doesn't matter whether the source says the same thing, or if the source is impartial.  You can be quite certain that one product is better than another simply because the company making it said so.

#5.  No information about the research.

Articles that talk about a study are always completely true.  Does the article tell you who did the study so you can tell if the study was likely to be biased?  Do you know how many subjects were studied?  Was the hypothesis published before the study?  Was information cherry picked from the study, or was the whole study revealed?  Were placebo's used?  Was it a double blind test?  What do all other, similar studies have to say?  What do other people say about the study?  Don't worry, because it doesn't matter... just believe!

#6.  Be especially certain when spotting keywords normally associated with truth:  Alternative, Truth, Natural, Spiritual, Free energy, Vibrations, Crystals, Healing.

Alternative - because alternative is often a way of saying "untested" or "not used by people who've studied this stuff."  Alternative things do not need to be tested, because they're true.

Truth - because scientific articles which simply state the facts, with no desire to impress anyone, are unlikely to use this word.  They are more likely to use words like probability, majority, unlikely, hypothesis and test.  Those words are boring.  "Truth" is the word you're looking for.

FREE BONUS NOTE:  Statements become truer when the word "fact" is combined with "true", e.g. "true fact."  They can become even truer when using bold, capital letters, e.g. "TRUE FACT OF UNDENIABLE TRUENESS" is more likely to be true than just "true."

Natural - because everything that is natural, including poo, is good for one and everything that is unnatural, like being inoculated against polio, is bad.

Spiritual - because everyone can agree as to what spiritual is.  It is also a true fact that everyone believes in the same 3000 deities, is not a member of any of the wrong religions, but is only a member of the one true religion.

Free energy - every kid with a basement and a voltmeter has built a free energy contraption.  The only reason why they don't use it to power the lights in their basement is because they haven't found a way to switch it on yet.

Healing - because real hospitals and all doctors, including specialists, surgeons, dentists and nurses, and even veterinarians, are part of a global money making conspiracy.

#7.  If it sounds sciency, it is science.

It has been discovered that even a computer can generate truth simply by stringing together a random sequence of clever sounding words, such as quantum, neural and transcendence.  If you cannot understand something it means that you are not smart enough to understand truth.

#8.  If it has a picture, it means the picture was taken by the same person that wrote the article.

The picture on the right was used to stir up hatred towards a group who were accused of having child brides.  Of course these days one can upload a picture to Google and check where else the picture is used, find out the origin of the picture and the real context.  In this case the picture was actually taken by one of the brides by herself (the one third from the front), who actually wrote the article too and now has 482 children of her own.

#9.  All conspiracies are true.

All governments (yes, even your one), regardless of which of the 192 countries you're from have conspired together to kill you, your people and themselves.  Yes, I know this means that they won't have anyone to govern, or pay taxes.  Regardless, since this fact agrees with #2 of this list, it is simply true.

#10.  Anyone who offers you money or other free stuff is your friend.

This is because it has been discovered that everyone is honest, especially large corporations, who don't care about profit, and Nigerian princes, who give out money willy nilly, just like the Trojans were always friends with the Greeks.

So now you know what to do:

Kindly share this with everyone you care about!!!  It is true, because I, the true sayer, say thus and 97.2% of all people agree thusly.  I also discovered, using a mixture of alternative, vibrating crystals and concurrent quantum methodologery, powered by my free energy device (a cow in a large hamster wheel), that your government is watching you to make sure that you do.

And most of all, remember that anyone who questions what you share is evil and out to get you.

1. Thumb print 1 courtesy of georgie c at
2. Unhappy Feet courtesy of jaylopez at
3. Shapes and Textures courtesy of frtzw906 at
4. Money in sock - euro courtesy of kris69 at