Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net

Interesting article about Snopes, FactCheck.org, and similar sites. Why do these untrue rumors spread so widely? “Rumors are a great source of comfort for people,” according to one of the Snopes founders.

“The ‘news’ that is not fit to print gets through to people anyway these days, through 24-hour cable gasbags, partisan talk radio hosts and chain e-mails, blogs and Web sites such as WorldNetDaily or Daily Kos,” he [FactCheck.org director] said in an e-mail message. “What readers need now, we find, are honest referees who can help ordinary readers sort out fact from fiction.”

“People get an e-mail or a photograph and they spot one little thing that doesn’t look right, and they declare the whole thing fake,” [the other Snopes founder] said. “That’s just as bad as being gullible in a lot of senses.”

While Snopes claims to be a “nuetral” I’ve found their bias bleeds through when reading some of their commentary. The most obvious one was this:

snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp

That was fascinating. I hadn’t read it before; although I’d seen the email, I simply scanned through it assuming it was all true.

Was there a particular point or two that you took issue with on the Snopes page?

.

You missed it too?

Instead of addressing the facts, which as it turns out the story is mostly correct, SNOPES spends a lot of time explaining while the story is true it doesn’t mean these people suffered exceptionally more than other people. What SNOPES fails to realize/admit is that not one of the people “profited” by the Revolutionary War nor did they expect to profit from it. They were all wealthy men that had little to gain and a lot to lose by advocating the path the country eventually took. They all would have been much wealthier men had the war not taken place. The fact that they risked their wealth and lives with no expected “pay off” is to be commended – the entire tone of the SNOPES article on this subject seems to try to discount their sacrifice.

The "information superhighway" is filled with fiction and misinformation. It will take actual printed sources to help sift through what is digitally published on the net. The other problem is extremist debunkers who only insist they are right without in-depth research to support their remarks.

God bless,
Ed


Choose Jesus.

They don’t admit it because that wasn’t part of the email. In fact, the word “profit” is neither in the email, nor in the Snopes explanation.

[quote=SamH]They all would have been much wealthier men had the war not taken place.
[/quote]

As the page pointed out, the signers didn’t have the power to prevent the war by not signing - it was already underway.

[quote=SamH]They were all wealthy men that had little to gain and a lot to lose by advocating the path the country eventually took…The fact that they risked their wealth and lives with no expected “pay off” is to be commended – the entire tone of the SNOPES article on this subject seems to try to discount their sacrifice.
[/quote]

What you say about the patriots is generally true. However, I think you misunderstand the purpose of Snopes. Someone sent the email to them in order to check the facts. The job of Snopes was to confirm that which was true, deny that which was false, and in the many cases where matters are in-between, give some perspective to balance the ebullience of the email and bring it closer to the truth. For instance, the Long Island signer whose farm was seized - the email implies it was the evil Brits that did this as punishment for his signing, but it was actually the Continental Army.

I suspect if you found an email that was unflinchingly negative about the Revolution, you might approve of how Snopes dealt with that topic, as it would probably give a somewhat positive account of matters portrayed so negatively in the email.

Many of the signers of the Declaration had been members of the First Continental Congress and had helped direct the policy as it evolved in the early years of the rebellion and they did actually have the power to end the war. The Declaration of Independence was not the goal when the founding fathers met that summer in Philadelphia and was by no means the predetermined end result. While the “Yankee” areas of the colonies were in revolt most were not. Until the summer of 1776 not that many people thought they were fighting to become a nation independent from the England. Many still hoped to reconcile with the Crown when it was realized that a certain level of independence was needed in the North American colonies. Had they instead presented a list of demands (representation in Parliament etc…) that England agreed to, the “revolution” could very easily have ended that summer.

The fact that they chose the route that had NO BENEFIT to them and actually resulted in the ruin of many of the signers doesn’t seem to be addressed by Snopes. Snopes seems to think (as do you) that the Revolutionary War was inevitable and these men were over taken by events as opposed to having been the driving force of events.

I used to regularly check out suspicious emails and notify the sender if Snopes (or one of the others) said it was false. I would send a supporting link, of course.

People cut down the amount of those stories they would forward to me. I still get a few.

Lately I’ve gotten a couple that either said it checked out as true with a link to a debunking site that showed that it was only partly true. Or even worse, the link said it was actually false! :eek:

I’ve given up.

Your first paragraph raises some good points that are important in understanding the war, the goals and motives of the patriots, etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are very important in answering the question Snopes addressed.

Hmmm…I hadn’t thought about that question before, but I do actually think the Revolution was inevitable. There were too many hotheads over here stirring up trouble, and Parliament didn’t have much more respect for the upstart colonists’ demands than Congress has for those of the Taliban. So even if it could have been delayed by 5, 10, 20 years, I think the Revolution was unavoidable.

Having said that, you’re trying to infer a broader answer by Snopes from a narrowly-crafted article. The question being answered by Snopes was whether the men involved paid the price claimed by the email for signing the Declaration. In some cases yes, in some cases no, in some cases they suffered the fate claimed but it’s tough to make a good case that it’s because they signed the Declaration. So while Snopes is casting judgment on the email, you’re trying to extrapolate that into a judgment of the patriots.
[/quote]

Your skeptical antennae should go up whenever a “fact checker” appears. Many of the so-called facts are highly interpretable. For example, CNN and some other sites rolled out their fact checkers to dispel myths about the bill. Yet, many of the “fact checks” dealt with predictions about what the bill will or will not do. You can’t “fact check” predictions and unintended consequences.

This works in reverse for supporters of the health bill as well. Opponents can’t bring out “fact checkers” to point out future facts. It’s an argument either way.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.