I’m a big fan of the Internet. I use it every day for checking up on sports talk, looking up facts, conversing with friends, and all sorts of fun stuff. Essentially, to me, the Internet is a great public library. Something that rivals the legendary Library of Alexandria. But, unlike a traditional library, the Internet allows anyone to share their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. That can be a good thing. Or it can be a nightmare. I’ve written before about various and sundry hoaxes that permeate the online ether. Most seemed self evident to me, I’m pretty sure there are no 19 year old Russian girls hot for my bod, but, based on the responses I got, it seems a lot of people needed the memo and were helped. In fact a young lady who works in a retirement village printed it out and posted it in the lounge where they have communal wi-fi. She said it was a great help to the residents. That makes me feel a little better about myself. But there are still stories flopping out of my monitor on a regular basis that, even with the most rudimentary fact checking, are easy to disprove. Today I’m going to tackle a few of those.
First off, and this one at least comes with the benefit of being well meaning, Muslims did not write the King James Bible. Certainly there were Muslim scribes in the King James court, and some of them probably did the grunt work when it came time to memorialize the translations, but the actual authorship of the bible is well documented. Fifty-four scholars were tasked with coming up with a complete, and non-annotated, version of the Old and New Testaments that would be devoid of any political commentary (which was common at the time). Forty-seven of them accepted.
- Second Westminster Company, translated the Epistles:
- Second Cambridge Company, translated the Apocrypha:
That list was written in 1609 and, as noted, was well documented by numerous sources. The Holy Qu’Ran, the text for all Muslims, was used as source material since it held accurate translations from the Old and New Testaments. But it did not color the King James version. The authors also referred to every other biblical text, including the unabashedly Papist Geneva Bible, to make sure they didn’t miss anything. Even so, they did not author a bible that demanded an end to the monarchy either.
Next on our list is a new version of an old saw; NASA is hiding aliens from us. This time around it comes with the additional weight of having an Excel spreadsheet as proof. Since many people view Excel as magyk, you can see the problem. So let’s sort it out. A nice man named Gary McKinnon hacked into NASA’s database from February 2001 to March of 2002. He was looking for proof that there were aliens hidden in Area 51 or anything at all do to with alien contact. He didn’t find anything. What he did find, however, was a spreadsheet that listed the names and ranks of people who are helming an armada that is hovering above earth protecting us from …. well, something. The problem is the spreadsheet lists names that don’t exist, anywhere, and accounts for a trillion or so dollars worth of gear.
Anyone who’s paid any attention to how the current Congress treats NASA knows there are no trillions to spend.
Anyway, NASA tried to have Gary arrested and extradited to the U.S. He’s an English citizen. I’ll let Karl Thomas fill you in on how all that went.
Following his arrest in 2002, Mr McKinnon was subject to a lengthy and divisive legal quarrel concerning his extradition to the US, where prosecutors wanted him to stand trial for the data breach.
If convicted, he would have likely faced up to 60 years behind bars. However, in 2012, Theresa May, the UK’s home secretary, said that he would not be sent to the US, justifying this decision on human rights grounds.
She said at the time: : “Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes. But there is also no doubt that he is seriously ill. He has Asperger’s syndrome, and suffers from depressive illness.
The legal question before me is now whether the extent of that illness is sufficient to preclude extradition.
After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.”
People I know who’ve seen the spreadsheet in question all say that it’s identical to the ones used by the Department of Defense for its war games scenarios. In other words “What would we do if we were attacked by aliens, using existing technology.” That’s nowhere near the same as actually building it.
This next one is so easy to debunk I’m not going to waste much time on it. Did President Carter quarantine and/or deport all Iranians in 1979? No. Did he check student visas and deport anyone who was here illegally? Yes. We were in a state of war with Iran at the time and that is standard operating procedure. It had also been the law for well over a century then and still is now. Even so, opponents of the Ayatollah were given safe haven here as political refugees.
Not the same as what Trump proposed by any stretch of the imagination.
By the way, I’d like to add this little bon mot to the above.
When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana
As a country we have treated, in some order, Chinese, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Mexican, Japanese, and Indian immigrants with varying degrees of disdain. We also didn’t do very well with the natives we found here. I think it’s high time we grew up and started acting like adults. Hiding under your bed and screaming “BOOGIE MAN” every time someone different than you arrives accomplishes nothing. Pointing guns at shadows doesn’t make you safer, it just makes you weak.
I don’t have the time or energy to deal with the crap that came out after the Paris attacks. Fortunately NBC has a well paid staff who did. Click here to kill nine common memes in one sitting.
Additionally, you can stop showing how smart you are by posting that old quote from Trump saying he would run as a Republican because Republicans are stupid. He never said it.
Trust me, the stuff he does say is bad enough, you don’t need to make shit up.
By the way, did Antonin Scalia really say “Blacks need slower schools?” Kind of. It was part of a very nuanced argument about the benefits of Affirmative Action which is currently in front of the Supreme Court.
Here’s the an edited version of the quote.
Scalia, who has previously opposed of affirmative action, claimed that helping minorities who don’t excel at high school get into top colleges “does not benefit African-Americans” because “they’re being pushed into schools that are too advanced for them.”
“Most of the black scientists in this country do not come from the most advanced schools,” Scalia said, referencing information from a friend-of-the-court or amicus curiae brief filed in connection with the case. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”
Scalia contended that minorities would benefit from attending “less advanced” or “slower track” schools, “where they do well,” which elicited murmurings in the courtroom.
Agree or disagree, he was clearly trying to offer real world solutions to a nagging problem. He was not saying black kids are stupid.
I could go on and on but I think this is a good start. A couple of pieces of advice, for anything to do with politics, hit up FactCheck.org. It doesn’t matter which political party says something, if it’s false they’ll call it out. Another good resource is Snopes.com. That’s a family run site that benefits from being able to admit what they don’t know. If the facts don’t tilt one way or the other they’ll mark the rumor “Unsure.”
Just FYI, the little girl asking for Christmas cards because her whole family was killed in a fire? That one’s true. You can get her address via the link.