Check Your Work!

My friend Michael Lotfi published a brilliant piece of political satire yesterday.

Lotfi “reported” a speech by Pres. Obama urging D.C. interns not to celebrate the Fourth of July and questioning the wisdom of breaking from Great Britain.

Why then on the Fourth of July should you celebrate such a radical break from what is Godly and just? No doubt there are many voices warning you of the harm of big government. They are wrong. Government can provide you with what family and friends cannot. If this is gone what will you have?”

At the bottom of the article, Lotfi clearly marks it “POLITICAL SATIRE.”

Apparently, a lot of people didn’t get it. The article went viral, not only on its strength as top-shelf satire, but also because many believed Obama actually gave the speech. The article took on a life of its own, with presidential detractors using it as the ultimate “see, I told you so!” moment.  As The Blaze reported, “This has led to questions surrounding the commander-in-chief’s patriotism — and rapid misinformation about his views on the Revolutionary War.”

Snopes actually debunked the rumor.

Links and excerpts referencing the article were soon being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news article.

This turn of events reveals a disturbing trend in the United States: people don’t  read.

I’ve seen this happen before. One side of the political aisle or the other picks up some falsehood, and it takes on a life of its own. People forward, post and comment without ever reading anything more than other people’s comments. They don’t stop to check the source, and if they do, they only read far enough to confirm their initial impression. It becomes a glaring example of confirmation bias, believed simply because it falls in line with preconceived ideas, notions and viewpoints.

This actually underlies and even deeper problem: a lack of critical thinking. We are quickly devolving into a a people informed and driven by 15-second sound bites, trite sayings, and Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Please people, check your work!

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