by J Warner Wallace
Mark Twain is credited with saying that “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on,” and a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study confirmed this is still the case today. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “fake news” as “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke.” While this kind of falsification has been going on for many years, there is a general consensus that “fake news” is a growing phenomenon. The MIT study found that fake news stories are posted on social media faster, farther and more thoroughly than true news stories. According to the research, lies do travel faster than the truth and the chief reason for this is… human.
The researchers studied how information and news stories about politics, terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, and finances were disseminated on social media from 2006 to 2017. Regardless of topic, false stories were more popular and more widely shared than true stories: “False claims were 70 percent more likely than the truth to be shared on Twitter. True stories were rarely retweeted by more than 1,000 people, but the top 1 percent of false stories were routinely shared by 1,000 to 100,000 people. And it took true stories about six times as long as false ones to reach 1,500 people.” Worse yet, the catalysts for this phenomenon were not automated “bots” or fake accounts. Real people were to blame. One researcher, after discovering this, admitted, “It’s sort of disheartening at first to realize how much we humans are responsible.”
Secular researchers are often surprised to find that human beings are so innately capable of this kind of bad behavior. Philosophers and psychologists have been asking the question, “Are humans good or bad?” for a very long time, and many believe that we are, by nature, inherently good. Some have even argued that each baby “arrives in the world provisioned with rich, broadly pro-social tendencies and seems predisposed to care about other people.”
My experience as a homicide detective makes me skeptical of this claim. After nearly three decades as an investigator, I am no longer surprised at the level of depravity I encounter in suspects who have committed the most horrific crimes imaginable…
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