Ignorance isn’t bliss

Response to satirical photo underscores a lack of critical thinking

Last Wednesday (March 23), the day after President Obama concluded his historic visit to Cuba, a website published a photo of his plane taking off. The rub: Each wing was covered with people, would-be passengers falling off in the wake.

There was no caption or article, just a headline: “Hundreds of Cuban Refugees Clinging to Air Force One on Flight Back to U.S.”

Now, you probably didn’t need to know that this came from The Onion—not to be confused with The Orion—before smelling something fishy. James Bond, Jason Bourne and maybe Farshad Azad could grab an outside seat on a jumbo jet; otherwise …

Yet apparently enough people believed this “story” that Snopes.com ran a fact check on this “claim” as if it were one of the legitimate news articles it vets. Obviously, the verdict was “False.”

Snopes noted a multiplicity of misconceptions sparked by The Onion, though differentiated its satire from “websites that exist solely to traffic in outlandish false stories.”

Either way, nonsense taken for truth is more a reflection on “retweeters” than creators.

Critical thinking has taken a backseat to knee-jerk reactions. That’s how Bernie Sanders gets labeled a Nazi, and Donald Trump can prevaricate nine out of every 10 statements, with virtually no ripples.

(For the record, Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, not a National Socialist, and Jewish, which makes it hard to be a Nazi; while PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer-winning fact checker, has charted Trump’s campaign claims and found just 10 of 117 to be true.)

Since you’re reading the CN&R, I’m preaching to the informed. Consider the masses outside the bubble. Chico—Butte County—is not emblematic of our congressional district, and California is not emblematic of the nation.

Few people take the time to step back and assess what they see, read or hear if it bolsters their worldview. Consider the source? Nah! Comment, share, move along.

Critical thinkers, take ownership of the information age—of democracy—by debunking junk. No arguments; just facts. Give blind believers pause.

Don’t let ignorance win.