Paul Is Dead!? Proceed with Caution on the Superhighway
January 28, 2013
In 1969, rumors began circulating that Paul McCartney, of the famed rock band The Beatles, was dead. Not only had he supposedly died, but it had happened way back in 1966. The band, according to the rumor, had covered up his death and had been slowly leaking clues to his demise in their songs and on their album covers. The whole thing was simply a hoax, but it became so worrying to fans that McCartney eventually had to appear on the cover of Life magazine in order to finally debunk it.
Back then, it was radio and television that caused this story to go worldwide. Nowadays, rumors and hoaxes such as this are predominately circulated through the Internet. They can spread around the globe in a matter of hours. And it is not just lies about celebrities that can take root. False information of all kinds can become entrenched into people’s minds as fact very quickly. The problem is, how do you know what is true and what isn’t on the information superhighway?
This is an important question, considering that more and more people are relying on the Internet for the majority of their information. Knowing how to evaluate this info is vital. This is true whether you are a student trying to put together a research paper, a voter trying to determine the best candidate, or someone attempting to locate good medical advice. Knowing where the information came from can tell you if the information is reliable, unbiased, and accurate.
When you look at a webpage, do you know when it was last updated? Did you know that any web address ending in ".com" means that it is a commercial website, and therefore may have commercial interest in the information it is providing? And who actually determines that the facts were correct? When a book is selected for a library’s collection, there are people whose job it is to evaluate the merits of the book, but no such person exists for the vast amount of items on the Internet.
So what do you do? Never believe anything that you read on the Internet? Only believe certain websites, like those for libraries and other educational institutions? The truth is that a lot of what you see on the Internet is correct. The important thing is to always know where and from whom the information came from. Then you can decide for yourself how reliable it most likely is. And it might be a good idea to check multiple sources for a story before accepting it as truth.
Then there is also common sense. Does it sound likely? Does it make sense that The Beatles, the most famous band in the world, could lose one of its members without anyone knowing; replace him for three years, without anyone knowing; and then decide to secretly give clues to the fans so they could ultimately uncover the deception? If it sounds too hard to believe, then don’t.
For more information on how to tell fact from fiction on the Internet, try Consider the Source: Finding Reliable Information on the Internet by Paige Taylor or Consider the Source: a Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web by James F. Broderick.