Monday, July 26, 2010

People are too Credulous

This issue relates directly to two things I've posted about recently, conspiracy theories, and my Christian Deception post. This fact is very obvious, and can be demonstrated simply by the existence of a website like Snopes. If people weren't so damned gullible then Snopes wouldn't exist. If you are unfamiliar with Snopes, they're basically in the business of debunking urban myths, particularly ones that get spread around the internet.

A reader called Jamie posted a comment asking me to do a post about this, here's what he said.
Can you do a post on why some Christians send those forwarded emails that that are obviously hoaxes or are blatant lies? Or maybe who makes them up? (Its modern day dishonesty) Some that I have seen include: claiming that the remains of the red sea chariots have been found thus proving the bible, giants have been found (you posted that one lol), Albert Einstein didn't believe in evolution - you get the picture :)
 This reminded me of a whole bunch of these kinds of religious rumours that propagate so freely on the internet. With a brief search on Snopes I found 3 common Christian chain-mail rumours that I had seen before.
Einstein humiliates atheist professor - False
Nasa Discovers Joshua's lost day - False
Airlines will not pair a Christian pilot and co-pilot in case they are taken by the Rapture - False

With regard to the chariot wheels from the exodus, that idea originated with Fundie "archaeologist" Ron Wyatt who claims to have found Noah's ark, the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, the location of Sodom And Gomorrah, the Tower of Babel, the true site of Mt. Sinai, the true site of the crucifixion of Jesus, and the original stones of the Ten Commandments (from His ideas were never independently verified by any actual archaeologists, and many of the pictures of 'chariot parts' that he claimed were real turned out to be nothing more than coral formations.

What I think it all comes down to in the end is really just a willingness to believe fantastical stories, especially when they claim to confirm some aspect of a person's belief system as a fact. It most certainly isn't unique to Christians, or even to religion at all (though it is common within religious groups). You'll see similar behaviour relating to conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and even just general urban myths. People simply seem to have a strange attraction to believing the unbelievable. I can't think of any other explanation for it.

On the other hand you have the people who actually make this stuff up. I suspect many of the myths that float around the internet have very boring origins, for example some teenager thinks it'd be funny to go around claiming that Mountain Dew makes your testicles shrink, or something similar, and before long the story has make its way onto the internet and people are spreading it like gospel. Other myth origins are simply a result of a misunderstanding, as was the case with the claim that some hair-ties are made from used condoms, which was not quite true. The reality was that a chinese condom company was using condoms that didn't pass quality control to make hair-ties. When it comes to people like Ron Wyatt, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, the Discovery Institute, all creationists, Fundamentalists in general, political propaganda and religion at large I am quite baffled at the lengths they go to in order to spread their lies. To call it anything else would be dishonest, they are clear-cut lies. Creationists are liars.


  1. I hate it when I get "Christian" mail - I delete it straight away. Before, I was careful to open the mail first, then delete it (as not to offend the sender), but now I want them to see that I do not care for such nonsense. I simply hate the arrogance with which they assume that everyone shares their views.

  2. I used to get quite a lot of 'Christian' email chain-letters, but I haven't had any for over a year now. My mother however has friends that always send her email rumours and the likes. I showed her how to use Snopes a few years ago. She's a lot less gullible as a result, if only more could follow suit.

  3. LOVE Snopes and great post!! I think it's probably not so much of a coincidence that people eager to believe in miracles and the like are also willing to believe in chain letters...

  4. Yeah I think you're right that it's not a coincidence.