Believe or not believe, or How not to become a victim of a prank

(ORDO NEWS) — According to one of the legends, the Neapolitan king Monterey arranged a holiday on April 1 to mark the end of the earthquake.

On this day, Monterey was presented with a fish, the taste of which he liked so much that the next year he ordered that exactly the same one be served at the table. The cook did not find the right fish by the deadline and took a chance to take a similar one, relying on his skill.

But the king noticed the fake… To everyone’s satisfaction, he cheered up. Since that time, funny pranks have become an integral part of the royal holidays. Perhaps it was this story that marked the beginning of the celebration of International Laughter Day.

April Fool’s Day, or as it is also called, April Fool’s Day is widely known and popular. On this day, it is customary to make fun of your friends, relatives and acquaintances.

Although on April 1 the distrust of many of our contemporaries is greatly exacerbated, often there is someone who can be misled. Some of the April Fool’s pranks have gone down in history and are still smiling.

On April 1, 1981, London’s Daily Mail turned to its readers for help in finding a Japanese athlete. She reported an incident that allegedly happened to a fictional participant in the traditional London marathon, Kimo Nakashimi.

Due to a translator’s mistake, the Japanese realized that he needed to run not 26 miles, but 26 days. At the time of the publication of the article, the judges of the marathon had already lost sight of the runner, but meanwhile, without losing hope of winning, he is still running somewhere in the expanses of England.

On the same day, the editorial office received several calls. Responsive readers said that they saw a runner that looked like a Japanese athlete, but could not catch up with him.

Mass media participate in April Fool’s drawings. For such publications, there is even a special term “newspaper duck”.

According to one version, this expression came to us from Germany in the 17th century, thanks to the consonance of the German word “Ente” (“duck”) with the pronunciation of the abbreviation “NT” from the words “non testatur” (“not verified”). This is how German editors marked inaccurate publications.

Over time, the “newspaper duck” has become an international expression denoting unverified or deliberately false information published in the media for selfish or provocative purposes.

The development of communication and digital technologies has opened up new opportunities for collecting, processing and disseminating information. The expression “newspaper duck” is now almost supplanted by the concept of “fake”, which came to us from the Internet.

Fake (from the English “fake” – a fake) is a broad concept denoting something false, unreliable, falsified, presented as valid in order to mislead. Fake can be pictures and news posted in the media or on the Internet. This is not always associated with harmless April Fools’ jokes.

In 1938, the American station CBS aired a radio show based on the novel by HG Wells “The War of the Worlds”. Stylized as news releases, a radio play about a Martian attack on Earth caused an unprecedented response.

As the newspapers later wrote, more than a million listeners took the production for real reports, believing in the attack of the Martians. There was unimaginable panic. Thousands of frightened radio listeners called the police, demanding to restore order.

Some hid in basements, some hurriedly left their homes so that hundreds of kilometers of traffic jams formed at the exit from cities, and some united in small armed groups to help the police protect the country from invasion.

According to a study conducted in early March 2022, 62% of Russians said they could distinguish fake from reliable news. However, such a high percentage immediately raised doubts and controversy in the media about the correctness of the survey results.

At the end of the last century, the philosopher L. Ron Hubbard drew attention to the fact that modern society neglected the art of observing the obvious. He emphasized that only by observing the obvious, one can see something as it really is and not make a mistake, succumbing to a false opinion about something.

In a short story by the children’s writer Nikolai Nosov, The Living Hat, two boys were frightened by a hat moving across the floor. Out of fear, they armed themselves with a club, a ski stick, potatoes and started a “war” with a “living hat”.

Only when one of the potatoes hit the hat did they hear a “meow” and realized that their beloved kitten Vaska was under the hat. If they had initially observed the obvious, they would have discovered that the kitten had disappeared from the room somewhere, and they would also have seen its tail sticking out from under the hat. There would be no fear.

When people replace their observations with conjectures, other people’s opinions, and “what is already clear,” they can get into ridiculous situations and even hurt another.

Especially in our time, when modern digital technologies make it possible to create fakes almost better than the originals and transmit information flows from various sources. Under such conditions, the inability to distinguish truth from lies can cost a person dearly.

The ability to observe the obvious can help guard against many mistakes. To develop this ability, no special simulators are needed. It is enough just to look around, trying to see what is clearly visible, while not allowing any ideas and your life experience to replace real-life objects. Try it, it can be not only useful, but also interesting.

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