Congratulations to those who worked out that my Friday morning blog post was an April Fool. I left enough clues in there... and none so obvious than that the first letter of each paragraph spelled out APRIL FOOL!
And shame on those who were so desperately hoping that it was true that they fell for it hook, line and stinker. I know who you are. Even worse were those who believed it it to be true without having read it! I might pass the names, emails and voice mails to Mick Spreader for public humiliation :-D
But it does raise a serious issue, that people are more willing to suspend their disbelief when they read something on the Internet. The accidental or deliberate failure to apply context to what they read and let us not forget that old favourite malicious intent.
It's the reason why so many people get viruses and trojans on their PCs, a willingness to uncritically view what their computer says as the truth or letting their eagerness to confirm their prejudices to override common sense. I can do no better than to recommend Rob Rosenberger's post on False Authority Syndrome or point you to what another of my favourite sites Snopes has to say on the matter.
More parochially, one area where the truth is murdered on a regular basis is in the reporting of council meetings. To be fair to the press they are unlikely to be able to condense a five hour debate into a few sentences and blogging councillors can twist what they like out of it. Rachel Eden has produced a particularly entertaining piece of fiction after Tuesday's Full Council meeting but to be fair to her she doesn't assert that it is the truth so caveat lector applies.
The big difficulty for the ordinary citizen is separating the fact from the spin. That's why I've been a long time campaigner for the web casting of council meetings, not just live but archived so that residents can go back to previous meetings and work out for themselves who said what. People will be still put a biased interpretation on proceedings but at least it would stop them being able to lie about matters of fact.
I recorded audio for most of Tuesday's Full Council meeting on my Android. It needs cleaning up in terms of sound quality but I've got a professional audio suite which should help. I think it would be in the interests of democracy to release it. There can't be any reason not to stream it because after all it is council policy to web cast meetings agreed unanimously by all parties.
Unless, of course, one them wouldn't like it if a few big fat lies were nailed.