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Old 09-04-2017, 10:39 AM   #1
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The Power of Rumor

There's been alot made of the phrase "fake news" lately. Seems people like to use the phrase whenever they disagree with the other "side", regardless of the reputability of the source.

But my observation has nothing to do with that - rather, it has to do with what happens when the news truly is fake.

Someone (or a group of someones) started a rumor that there were gas shortages here in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey. It was not true at all, but it spread like wildfire, propagated by people who think Facebook is a reliable source of facts.

Now, for almost a week, it's almost impossible to find gas. A "shortage" was created where none existed, made worse by panic. We've seen lines of 200 and 300 vehicles at gas stations, traffic snarled, tempers flaring, actual fights, arrests, hoarding, folks in pickup trucks with steel or plastic drums to fill, etc.

About 75% of stations are out of gas, even though they are being resupplied daily, and the ones that are open mean waiting in line for several hours and hoping they don't run dry before you get to the pump. All of it caused by a lie, a rumor, propagated by social media.

Sometimes I despair for the future of our society, considering how many stupid people live in it.
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:56 AM   #2
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Living in New England, we get that to a small degree every time there is a chance of snow. The fake weather reports drive everyone to gas stations and grocery stores to stock up on all the things they won't be able to live without for the 4 hours it takes to clear the snow.
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Old 09-04-2017, 11:05 AM   #3
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Too much information, be it true or false, we are inundated with television and texts 24/7 nowadays. I remember not knowing who became president until reading about it in the paper the next morning. People are getting used to having the moon glow on their faces from staring at screens all day.
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Old 09-04-2017, 11:06 AM   #4
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Well put
And as our scoutmaster said many times "You can't fix stupid"
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Old 09-04-2017, 11:08 AM   #5
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Living in NW Wisconsin we have a similar problem everytime they predict a large snowfall or blizzard . The local liquor / food outlets are packed with people stockpiling beer and frozen pizzas.
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Old 09-04-2017, 11:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Too much information, be it true or false, we are inundated with television and texts 24/7 nowadays. I remember not knowing who became president until reading about it in the paper the next morning. People are getting used to having the moon glow on their faces from staring at screens all day.
I think you're on to something there Jim. Just too much information, and much of it false.

We like watching the shows like Edge of Alaska and Life Below Zero. In one recent episode (don't recall which show), this fellow was chopping wood and remarking to the cameraman that he didn't know who the President was, and didn't care. What he cared about was having enough Salmon to feed his dogs, whether or not he could find the Caribou, and enough wood to make it through the winter. This was not a man influenced at all by other people's opinion, or rumor, or world events. He was influenced by basic realities. I admired that tremendously.
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:17 PM   #7
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On the other hand there was Hurricane Sandy and if you hadn't put in enough water and ice and other supplies you were really out of luck. We had no electricity for two days -- and our sons and daughter had to come live with us because they didn't have electricity for over a week. Only through luck -- not good planning -- I had a freezer full of food for us and was able to get some ice from the convenience store where everything was melting so they were giving it away. Everything stayed cold. Fortunately we have a gas stove so we could cook. What is really silly to me is that the oven on a gas stove and the heater on a gas furnace rely on electricity. Fortunately it didn't get cold while we lost electricity and we could boil water.
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:19 PM   #8
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On the third hand, we were commenting this morning that before the era of electricity and supermarkets people had life skills that allowed them to survive. But we've built our cities and towns in such a way that people are dependent on the wires of electricity and the automatic delivery of fuel and water.
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:24 PM   #9
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Living in NW Wisconsin we have a similar problem everytime they predict a large snowfall or blizzard . The local liquor / food outlets are packed with people stockpiling beer and frozen pizzas.
And that's a problem?
You guys seem to be complaining that the media keeps predicting things that come true. Whose fault is that?
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:37 PM   #10
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And that's a problem?
You guys seem to be complaining that the media keeps predicting things that come true. Whose fault is that?
That aside, my post had more to do with how easily a rumor or false information can spread, and the real problems it can cause.
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