Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Devious Question and Fake News in the Garden of Eden

When I was employed as a salesman at a car dealership, I learned that you can get someone to believe a lie without ever telling him or her a lie. It’s possible to get someone to believe a lie simply by asking the right question. For example, after I closed one profitable deal on a pickup truck, the customer said, “Dan, as much as I paid for that truck, you ought to throw in a set of mats.”
I acted as if I was taken aback. “Mr. Jones, we haggled quite a bit over this deal. Do you seriously think I have enough profit left to just throw in a set of mats?” I didn’t tell him a lie. I asked him a question. If I had just buckled and given him the mats, he would have wondered if he had gotten a decent deal or not.
Since I went with a question which helped him to believe he had done well, he left that dealership knowing he got a great deal. He probably boasted to his friends, “Salesman couldn’t even throw in a set of mats. Ha!”

Asking questions to manipulate someone is a very common technique. It is used by lawyers, journalists, criminals, police, politicians, you name it. I’m not proud to have used the technique, but at least I didn’t invent it. Credit for that goes to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. “Eve, did God really tell you not to eat from that one tree?”
Eve explained that God had left explicit instructions not to eat the fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Then the cunning serpent reeled Eve in. “That fruit looks really good, doesn’t it? Why would God tell you not to eat it?”
After setting the hook, the serpent gave Eve the fake news. “You will not surely die if you eat that delicious fruit. Actually, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.”
It all sounded good to Eve, and that fruit did look very good. Either Adam wasn’t around to see and hear what was going on, or he just wasn’t paying attention. Next time he talks to Eve, she’s like, “I tried something new today, and it was really good. Here, try some.”
Adam takes a bite. Genesis 3:7 says, “And then the eyes of both of them were opened.” It’s interesting that their were eyes were only opened after both of them had eaten some of the fruit.
Then God shows up looking for Adam. Adam was hiding behind the trees. “I was afraid because I was naked,” he explained. The fact that Adam and Eve were naked wasn’t fake news. However, before partaking of the fruit, nakedness was not even noteworthy. It was their normal.
If I had been God, I would have said something like, “You never noticed that you were naked before? I know you noticed that Eve was naked and you seemed to like her that way. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. But who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?”
Adam replies with a little fake news of his own. “Yeah, but it wasn’t my fault. That woman you gave to be with me, she handed me the piece of fruit. It did look delicious, so I did eat it. You can’t blame me for that. You should just blame that woman or blame yourself for giving her to me. I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
Then God asked Eve about what she had done. More fake news. “Don’t look at me. I was minding my business when that snake showed up. And, by the way you created that snake and put it in here with us. And you also put that tree right here in the middle of the garden. How was I supposed to just walk by that tasty fruit everyday. I don’t really see how you can blame me for what happened.”
A lot of the fake news that is being disseminated via the internet is designed to motivate people to do something that seems quite harmless. Fake news beckons, “Here’s something interesting. Just click on the link and take a look. It will only take a minute. What’s the harm?”
After going to a fake news website, the story may look good enough to share. And so it goes. Taking the fake news bait is one thing, and I doubt that there are many people who have never been fooled by fake news. Sharing fake news is a much bigger problem. When people share fake news, the big winners are the owners of the websites getting all the clicks. Think twice before spreading fake news and enriching the producers of fake news.
Note: I hope it’s obvious that I’ve embellished a bit on the story about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as it appears in Genesis.
Have you been fooled by fake news?
Have you been fooled into sharing fake news?
Do you have friends who believe and share fake news all the time?

Do you think people need to be more discerning about fake news?
Leave comments and questions below.

No comments:

Post a Comment