The following picture of a hunter posing next to his latest kill was posted to Facebook. In it you can see that some poor animal has been slaughtered to the great delight of the hunter …
Yes yes, I know, it is satire, what you can rapidly discern (I hope) is that this is photo of Steven Spielberg with a mechanical Triceratops on the set of “Jurassic Park,”. Most finding this post got the humour and so it was shared many times … but for some it was instantly deemed to be real and so they did not grasp this as satire, and instead treated it as quite real (some of the comments rather sadly reflect this). So what should we make of it? One reaction might be to laugh at how stupid some can be, but pause for a moment and consider what has happened here.
- There is a flow of information that contains something explicit and that explicit message was simply accepted without pause
- The humour is of course the surprise … it’s Steven Spielberg and so would be recognised by many as somebody not into big game hunting, but of course not everybody will knows him, and so some missing that is understandable.
- But the animal is a Triceratops, and that is a rather large clue to miss for people who have access to Facebook and can read english.
The background context is the huge fuss that was generated when a 19-year-old Texas cheerleader and hunter posted numerous photos of herself posing with a variety of animals that she shot while on safari in Zimbabwe – in response many were horrified and so what happened in some minds is that in response to seeing a similar image, some were totally blind to the satire.
As we surf FB, there is a huge flow of information, and as a result many will give what they see a very brief casual glance and then jump in.
To be clear – This is not a story about human stupidity, but rather is a story that is really about information overload and the consequences of that. If you are still not sure about how true that can be for anybody, then try this …
Leaping to the wrong conclusion does not necessarily confirm anything except our humanity and the limits of our cognitive abilities. Understanding this matters because it can not only lead us to an appropriate degree of caution concerning our own conclusions and so in can also enable such conclusions to be open for modification, it also enables us to have some compassion for those who make such an ever so human mistake and not simply dismiss them as “stupid”.