Gullibility And The Internet

I have mentioned before how this website get thousands of hits every month for a photo I have posted. It’s a doctored, phony photo of a ship sailing toward a hurricane. I have no idea where it came from, though it is obviously bogus.

I posted it because of all the times it was sent to me by people who were impressed with this amazing capture. They so wanted to believe. And, why would anyone post something so untrue?

The ship isn’t the only phony photo. There’s the one that surfaced shortly after 9/11 of a man standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Center with a jet heading directly toward him. There are so many things wrong with that photo, yet people believed.

Today we have the latest episode. An Arab website, aligned with the Iraqi insurrection, published a photo of a soldier. He had been kidnapped they said. The photo was sad to see. The soldier, a young black man, sat on a concrete floor, his hands behind his back. He was wearing a vest with some sort of ammunition. The website said he would soon be beheaded, unless the United States met their demands for prisoner release.

We have seen these photos before. Unfortunately, they are often the precursor to an actual beheading. But the Pentagon said they knew of no missing soldier.

The photo is a fraud.

What looked like a soldier is actually a doll. This is so strange, it’s embarrassing.

In fact, looking at the package, the doll had been dressed in all the provided accessories. An automatic weapon pointed at his head was from the package too.

This story got lots of play earlier today – and this payoff will probably get play too. I’m more worried about what will happen in the Arab world.

I am told by a friend who is quite conversant in these things that al Jazeera will probably not admit this story was bogus – though they reported it all day. Saving face is very important and there’s no upside to being wrong here.

Like the hurricane ship and the guy on the World Trade Center, there will be people who continue to believe this American soldier has been kidnapped and will die. And they will be pleased. What a shame.

I’ve just checked The story is nowhere to be found.