Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Here's a Test: Can You Spot Fake News?

Below are three stories I've seen on Facebook today. Can you tell which, if any, are real? Read them all. Pass this on to your friends to test their ability to spot fake news. 

Number 1: 

Super Blue Blood Moon was Nothing. Watch for this coming in April.

While everyone is still excited about the “Super blue blood moon” of January 30, astronomer Holly Smoot of the famed Malomar Observatory says we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Mark your calendar for the night of April 1.
“The moon slowly presents different sides of itself toward Earth,” she says. “The last time this particular Moonscape was observable from Earth during a full moon was February 29, 1613.”
On that night, long before the invention of photography, Dutch astronomer and artist Jan Vandegauss caught a representation of that side of the full moon in oil paints. Astronomers ever since have debated what Vandegauss’ painting is trying to represent, as well as what to call it. Some German astronomers derided it, calling it ‘Vandegauss’ bagel.’ Others have claimed it is in fact a flaw in the canvas, not at all an exact representation of what Vandegauss actually painted.
Vandegauss apparently believed the painting spoke for itself. While he left copious notations about other astronomical observations during his short lifetime – he died at 23 – no notes have been found about his famed ‘bagel moon.’
Smoot says astronomers at her own California based Malomar Observatory have taken to calling it the ‘navel orange moon.’
By whatever name, it will be a sight not observed in over 400 years. On April 1, the ‘navel orange moon’ or ‘bagel moon’ will rise at 11:02 in the evening on the east coast, 8:13 p.m. in California. Check your local listings to see what time to watch for it in your area.
Help get the word out. Share this on all your social media.

Number 2: 

Woman Tries to Bring Emotional Support Peacock on United Flight

United Airlines denied a woman's efforts to bring a peacock onto a flight departing from Newark Liberty International Airport. 
According to Live and Let's Fly, the woman said the peacock was an emotional-support animal, allowed to fly for free. While the woman also offered to pay for the peacock's ticket, the blog said, United would not let the animal onto the flight.
United said in a statement to Business Insider: "This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customer on three separate occasions before she arrived at the airport."
Number 3: 
CDC Doctor: 'Disastrous' flu shot is causing deadly outbreak.

Some of the patients I’ve administered the flu shot to this year have died,” the doctor said, adding “I don’t care who you are, this scares the crap out of me.”
We have seen people dying across the country of the flu, and one thing nearly all of them have in common is they got the flu shot.”
Scientists were worried this year’s flu season was going to be rough and their fears have been proven well founded. The flu season is off to a record-breaking start, with the CDC reporting widespread flu activity from coast to coast. Many health officials believe that 2018 will ultimately be the worst flu outbreak that we have experienced since 1918.

So: how did you do? Did you spot the fakes? Do you know how to spot fake news? 
Let’s start with the vaccine story. Regardless whether you are pro- or con- vaccine, there are some obvious signs this is fake. Reporters live by the motto “who, what, where, when, how and why.” ‘A CDC doctor’ who is never named? Where did he supposedly make this statement? When? Where are the facts? There are none.
This is one of the fastest spreading articles on Facebook this week. Why was it written? Simple: money. The creator of this story may have spent a couple hours writing it. The vast majority of readers don’t click on ads but some will, and he gets a few cents every time a reader clicks on an ad in his story. Depending on your browser, you might be looking at 30 ads on that one page.
Suppose vaccines do work. (Again, as I said, I’m not taking a position.) If a vaccine could save someone’s life, and this ‘reporter’ scared someone off from getting it and they subsequently died, should the ‘reporter’ be held responsible?
The peacock story, amazingly, is real.
Willis Hawley and Reed Smoot. 
The ‘bagel moon’ story, I made that up. (Took me almost an hour to create that artwork – pretty good, isn’t it?) It has already spread to several dozen pages on Facebook. Unlike the vaccine story, I did put in names, places and dates. However, if you took a minute on Google, you’d discover that Mallomar is a cookie, Palomar is the observatory; Hawley Smoot was the name of a Tariff Act (Thanks Ferris Bueller!), there was no February 29th in 1613 and degauss is an electronic process for demagnetizing a TV screen.

Hopefully, the worst thing that will come out of it will be people looking at the moon on April Fool’s Day. 

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